Looking for a great escape after an almost two-year travel ban? Relax and reset island style at SALT of Palmar, Mauritius.
As I think wistfully about my last visit to SALT of Palmar, the award-winning adults-only boutique hotel on the wilder east coast of Mauritius, the lyrics of Celine Dion’s hit song Colour of My Love pop into my head. “I’ll paint my mood in shades of blue”. The opening line is so apt for descriptions of the typically turquoise/ blue-green/ cyan/ cobalt/ azure Indian Ocean and lagoons. Every adjective for the shade is well used and for good reason – there is #nofilterneeded.
SALT is a little gem of a hotel at one end of Palmar Beach, a pretty public spot I make a point of visiting whenever I’m in Mauritius. It’s been two years too many since I was there. The beach is beautiful, not that busy, and people love to run, walk or cycle under the trees that line the seaside path. That’s if they’re not sunbathing or swimming in the shallows. Imagine my delight when I heard SALT was taking shape and duly opened right there in late 2018!
The boutique hotel ranks among Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 30 Resorts in the Indian Ocean: Readers’ Choice Awards 2021, and is highly recommended for “lovers of food, travel and all things local”. Part of the Lux Collective, which can be relied on to be ahead of the curve with their visionary hospitality offerings, SALT was delivering meaningful travel experiences to guests long before we were grounded by the pandemic. They are all about entertaining those who want to meet the locals of Mauritius rather than simply visit places on an itinerary.
To that end, guests are encouraged to get out and about, but not before they are properly nourished with the best the chefs can conjure up from their sustainable kitchens. SALT supports the communities and their environments by employing, sourcing and collaborating locally, celebrating culture and serving up warm, genuine smiles that make you feel at home the second you cross the threshold.
What else makes them shine? The adults-only positioning, brightly-coloured décor, and cocktails at the rooftop bar that offers panoramic views of the ocean are just a few drawcards, but they know that wooing guests begins with their stomachs. “Good food makes people happy,” says GM Raj Reedoy, and that’s the whole point.
The menu is purposely limited to reduce the potential for waste and is super-healthy to keep guests salivating for more. New delights include raw, vegan and vegetarian options. The multicultural nature of the island population lends itself to Indian cuisine for example, which is often vegetarian, and global trends inspire chefs to take guests’ dietary preferences in their stride.
“Our chefs might lean towards Mediterranean, Mauritian or Middle-Eastern flavours but they are unrestricted and eager to experiment. Veganism is on trend, and we have developed some delicious hot vegan dishes and desserts as well as our Keen on Green concept with raw-based plants,” says Raj. “SALT Equilibrium goes beyond the spa. It is about holistic health, embracing nature and eating raw, plant-based food. At SALT, you’ll find balance in no time.”
The hotel philosophy is sustainable everything. Food preparation is all about local, seasonal sourcing, home-grown and homemade, plus zero waste. Foodies are welcome to observe their simple, ancient methods of cooking in the kitchen, too.
Taking the wellness aspect into the holistic realm, a stay at SALT simply has to include me-time at the spa. You can customise a massage or facial treatment at the stir bar by selecting a mix of salt designed to soothe, energise, hydrate or detox. Then relax afterwards for a few more precious minutes in the island’s one-of-a-kind salt room, where you can recline in peace and let the colours and music wash over you.
New collectable experiences (charged separately) embrace the wellness theme and stay true to the hotel’s invitation to unwind and recharge. Self-care is one of the hottest wellness trends. Enjoy the on-site self-care shower ritual to channel the potent metaphysical properties of water for healing, releasing and purifying.
Indulge in the 90-minute body exfoliation and massage, natural movement session, yoga experience, SALT stone massage, halo breathing meditation, and relaxation massage. And extend your healing journey by learning the basics of raw, vegan cooking, following recipes from the SALT cookbook.
Those who wish to venture out can join the Vortex de Riambel down south, which is conducive to meditation and harmonisation of body and spirit. Or experience the magic of forest bathing on an excursion that highlights the positive effect of trees on well-being.
Finally, discover healing rituals for rest and rejuvenation using everything from aromatherapy bath salt scrubs and sleep-enhancing body butter to soothing infusions, carpe diem beds and a pillow menu.
The SALT departure ritual
The challenge with transformational experiences such as this is that the stay is never quite long enough. An enduring memory is the SALT departure ritual – a quietly ceremonial send-off on the beach in front of the hotel. Sales Executive Melanie Lebrasse led mine, saying:
“Take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out, imagine you are letting yourself go in preparation for your journey ahead. Allow yourself to relax and align with the universe. Listen to the calming sounds of the ocean. See the light surrounding you and protecting you until you reach your destination.
“Keep breathing, and hold out your hands so I can place some salt in them. Visualise all your joy and happiness in your hands with the salt. When you are ready, you can open your eyes. I now invite you to give back to the universe the joy and happiness that you have by dissolving the salt in the ocean so that it will be sent back to you in abundance.”
Who won’t be counting the days to their next return?
When to go
Mauritius is a year-round destination. Its hottest months are October to December.
Where to stay
SALT of Palmar, east coast of Mauritius saltresorts.com
A mix of local flavours featuring vegan and raw options.
Need to know
SA passport holders do not need a tourist visa to enter Mauritius. Fully vaccinated travellers are free to explore with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, and further negative Covid-19 tests on arrival (day 0) and day 5.
FLY SAA flies to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport from OR Tambo International on Wednesdays and Sundays. Visit flysaa.com
Words Debbie Hathway