After not being able to travel abroad for 2+ years due to Covid, I wanted to go out with a bang on my first trip back to Europe. I had been to Italy 6 times before, but I’d never made it to the Italian Riviera, and a stay at the highly “Instagrammable”and just truly exquisite looking Belmond Splendido has always been high on my bucket list.
Unfortunately, the Splendido was out of my price range – if memory serves me right it was $2,000+ a night for the cheapest room – so I began searching online for alternative accommodations in Portofino.
Thankfully, I very easily came across Splendido’s sister property called Splendido Mare, which is located in Portofino’s main piazza.
Splendido Mare evokes all the glitz and glamor of the jet-set lifestyle that the Italian Riviera is known for, but with its recent 2021 renovation, it has a gorgeous modern flair compared to the more traditional look of its sister property Splendido.
Guests of Splendido Mare get reciprocity and access to the main hotel of Splendido, and Splendido Mare guests also get some additional perks not available to guests at the main property (more on that in the Guest Experience section below).
In the end, I was more than happy to save some money, but still be able to enjoy the full Belmond Splendido experience.
How I Booked
Since this stay was quite the splurge, and since Splendido Mare is a boutique hotel and not affiliated with any hotel loyalty programs, I booked on Hotels.com to take advantage of their 10th night free rewards program.
We booked a Superior Village View Room – one the hotel’s cheapest types of accommodation – and we still paid nearly $1,400+ a night in early June. Since I booked via Hotels.com, I paid for this stay with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which earns 3X points on all travel purchases.
I also could have booked this stay with my American Express Platinum card via the Fine Hotels and Resorts Collection and I would have earned 5X points on this stay.
For those that are unfamiliar with Amex’s FHR program, it offers quite a few benefits at many luxury hotels worldwide, such as:
- Room upgrade, pending availability
- Daily breakfast for two
- Guaranteed 4PM late checkout
- Noon check-in, when available
- Free Wifi
- “Experience credit,” such as a spa or food and beverage voucher
I chose to stick with Hotels.com for my booking for a number of reasons. Firstly, Amex FHR collection properties must be prepaid for, in order to qualify for the 5X earn and to receive the above hotel benefits.
In addition, free Wifi and breakfast was already included in the rate for my Hotels.com booking, and early check in and late checkout for this particular stay wouldn’t have worked with my travel schedule.
Also, I knew the hotel was sold out ahead of time, since I saw that higher-tier rooms were not bookable on the numerous sites that I searched, so I knew a room upgrade would likely not have been granted. All in all, not having to prepay and still earning 3X on my CSR combined with the Hotels.com rewards program rebate was a more appealing option for me.
Our Superior Village View Room was superbly decorated and very spacious.
As Belmond is owned by LVMH (the conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton, Dior, Dom Perignon and many more famous luxury brands), and since Splendido Mare was just renovated in 2021, the attention to detail in the decor, furnishings, etc. made for a superbly luxurious stay.
The designers achieved the perfect balance of putting a modern twist on the timelessly traditional Italian Riviera style, and even without staying in a suite we felt super pampered and spoiled throughout our stay.
One of my favorite aspects of the room was the large, spa-like bathroom, which was decked out with stunning white and orange geometric tiles, and outfitted with a rain shower, plush robes and lavish Acqua di Parma toiletries.
The Location and Guest Experience
The location of the hotel in the main piazzetta of Portofino was ideal for our first trip to the Riveria.
Rather than being up in the foothills of town, where the main hotel Splendido is located, the central location made it easy to walk around in the early hours of the day to explore before the hordes of tourists descended upon the tiny village.
In addition, this central location not only made an incredible backdrop, but it also made it easy to shop, dine, and bar hop, with the heart of Portofino steps away from the hotel.
Included in the room rate was a delicious made-to-order breakfast, which was served in the hotel’s award-winning DaV Mare restaurant.
Serving a variety of fresh egg dishes – including a delightful frittata! – along with various other pastries, fruits, meat and cheeses, coffee and tea, fresh juices, etc. the menu was plentiful, and we were able to order anything and everything that our hearts desired.
HOT TIP: Splendido Mare guests are also able to book breakfast at the main Splendido property to enjoy the fabulous buffet they serve on the top of the hill overlooking the whole of Portofino. We were able to book this with the concierge, but unfortunately, we slept in that day and never made it.
If I were to ever stay here again, I would make sure to request this at check in, and I would make sure to pick a day where you have a calm evening beforehand, so that you can enjoy that experience to the fullest.
After breakfast each day, and after exploring the village each morning while it was quiet, we would take the complimentary shuttle up to Splendido to enjoy the variety of facilities and amenities that the main hotel has to offer. We spent every day at the incredible saltwater infinity pool, which overlooks the most gorgeous vista that Portofino has to offer.
In addition to the pool, I also enjoyed the fabulous new outdoor Dior spa pop up, which was an absolute delight. Being able to relax and be pampered in such a tranquil and enchanting setting was a special and very unique experience!
Some special perks that Splendido Mare guests get to experience complimentary included in their room rate– and which Splendido guests have to pay extra for – are a free one hour boat ride around Portofino and also access to the amazing Bagni Fiore beach club.
One afternoon, we booked our boat ride with a Moet and Chandon + Veuve Clicquot picnic to take us to San Fruttuoso – a beach only accessible via boat or a 1+ hour hike in the hills – and it was an absolutely incredible afternoon!
Seeing Portofino by water made for a truly unique perspective, and I am so glad that I didn’t have to pay extra out of pocket in order to experience it!
We spent another afternoon at the beach club in Paraggi, which again was free for Splendido Mare guests, and we were some of the first people to experience the chic Dior pop-up beach club there.
We basically had the entire beach club to ourselves, were waited on hand and foot by the wonderful staff, and we loved the yummy beach snacks and refreshing cocktails! It made for an absolutely glorious day of swimming in the sea and soaking up the sun on the Riviera!
The Dior collabs at the hotel definitely made you feel like you were indulging in the jet-set lifestyle that Portofino is known for, and I only wished that we were able to take this adorable little Dior vespa for a spin around town before we left 🙂
Staying at Splendido Mare seriously lived up to the hype! It was a true 5 star experience in every way, and I can only hope to stay there again if I ever make it back to Portofino. The hotel staff at both Splendido Mare and Splendido were fabulous, and if you’re able to splurge and stay here, it’s highly unlikely that you would regret it!
There are many ways to travel, but few better than this!