The first property from new hotel brand Salt, launched by the team behind Lux Resorts, has opened in Mauritius.
The 59-bedroom Salt of Palmar has been conceived to champion sustainability, connect with the local community and introduce culturally curious travellers to the “real, unvarnished Mauritius,” the company said.
The Salt Equilibrium spa includes a salt room, five treatment rooms and a team of local therapists offering salt-based treatments designed to energise, relax, detoxify and rejuvenate.
Other wellness activities on offer include a Sunrise Run Club, sunrise salutations on the beach, meditation at Brahmakumari, a dawn photography tour, hike & bike programme, yoga at the Salt Farm Shala.
Its distinctive look is born out of collaboration between local Mauritian architect Jean-François Adam of JFA Architects and French artist Camille Walala, whose vivid murals adorn buildings across the globe.
The new hotel brand is committed to taking guests to people – not just places – and unearthing the beating heart of destinations, so at the core of Adam’s designs is a desire to bring the natural environment and local Mauritian way of life to the forefront, giving every visitor a real sense of what his homeland has to offer.
Taking an existing geometric, riad-like building on the fringe of Palmar beach, Adam repurposed the standing structures to accentuate the hotel’s proximity to the sea.
As part of this, he orientated all beds to face the water and redesigned the pool to better its connection with the beach. In addition, he played to the island’s warm tropical light, allowing the location’s natural colours to shine.
“Everything about the hotel is designed to bring people together,” said Adam. “From the communal tables in the bakery, restaurant and beach bar, to Mauritius’ first rooftop bar and the inviting spaces in the Salt equilibrium spa, it is all about gathering and sharing stories of travels and enjoyment of this incredible location.”
Because the brand is committed to doing things differently, it brought on Walala – an artist rather than an interior designer – to create the interiors.
Walala’s task was to find the balance between her own creative impulse and an authentic expression of the island’s character – fresh, playful and positive in outlook.
“Camille Walala’s relationship with colour is precisely the same as most Mauritians’ – for both, colour is a vehicle for joy and a means of expressing positivity,” said Paul Jones, CEO of The Lux Collective. “She is the ideal artist for Salt of Palmar; I must have been in the hotel 100 times as it developed over the last few months but, whenever I see them, her designs still make me smile.”
To find inspiration, she travelled around Mauritius, meeting with local artisans and absorbing the bright palette that punctuates the island, and was inspired by its verdant landscapes, brightly painted houses, seascapes and sunsets, as well as by the spirit of its communities and the colourful mosaic of culture.
“People paint their houses in the most amazing tones that really stand out against the lush tropical setting,” said Walala. “When choosing the colours for Salt of Palmar, I wanted to try and get a balance between natural tones and bold pop colours. The space is supposed to be fun and hero the beauty of the incredible island.”
A local ceramicist designed and crafted the hotel’s tableware – a set of 950 individual pieces for Salt of Palmar, each one made entirely by hand.
Walala met an array of local characters, such as 74-year-old basket weaver Reotee Buleeram, who crafted the beach bags at Salt of Palmar, and father-and-son duo Mawlabaccus and Said Moosbally, who are the masterminds behind the rattan ware chairs throughout the resort.
Salt guests have the opportunity to bond with locals via the Skill Swap programme, exchanging their time and talent with local producers, designers and artisans such as fisherman, potters, basket weavers and more.
The food philosophy at the restaurant is fresh, local, homemade, homegrown, seasonal and zero-waste, with the majority of the produce coming from the Salt Farm, which cultivates hydroponic fruit and vegetables (opening end of first quarter 2019) and local bio-farms.
Salt of Palmar also has a partnership with Positive Luxury, and carries the butterfly mark awarded to brands that balance luxury with mindful, responsible actions.