From colour-pop design to skill swaps with locals, Ben Brown reports on Salt of Palmar, an innovative new hotel that opened in Mauritius in November. Placing happiness and sustainability at its heart, it serves homegrown vegetarian food, employs no single-use plastics, has no TVs in the room and no buffets.

Mauritius is an island bursting with colour. The people paint their houses in vibrant tones, the sunsets are rich with reds and oranges, and the landscape is a lush palette of tropical shades.

Combine this bold aesthetic with sustainable, local practices, and you’re getting close to the new Salt of Palmar hotel in Mauritius.

The Salt of Palmar is a new 59-room hotel on the east coast of Mauritius, a first for new hotel brand Salt Resorts. The hotel was awarded the Positive Luxury “Butterfly Mark” for successfully balancing mindful sustainability with the luxury of a five-star hotel.

Salt is built for “culturally curious” travellers, designed in Instagram-worthy pop colours and deeply integrated with local, sustainable culture.

Salt of Palmar, Mauritius

Swapping skills with locals

Salt of Palmar is rooted in the culture and traditions of Mauritius. All the food is grown by local farmers and prepared on site. There are also efforts to minimise waste and one of the greenhouses has a vegetarian restaurant inside. In the first quarter of 2019, the hotel will begin operating a hydroponic fruit and vegetables garden to help it be more sustainable.

Salt of Palmar, Mauritius

Local ceramicist Janine hand-crafted the hotel’s tableware – a set of 950 individual pieces. Janine shared, “I wanted to deliver something really special, so we worked with a specially formulated charcoal clay combined with a grey glaze base to create an effect that showcases the Mauritian savoir-faire.”

Reotee Buleeram, a 74-year-old basket weaver, has been employed to create beach bags for the hotel, while father and son duo Mawlabaccus and Said Moosbally, produced the rattan chairs throughout the resort. Meanwhile, the hotel’s guidebook is written by local people. “It’s about the people and places that make the island tick.” You can read it here.

Salt of Palmar, Mauritius

Guests can also get involved by participating in skills swaps. Share your knowledge with a local, and they’ll teach you pottery, fishing or basket weaving in return. The chef will even teach you traditional cooking methods and the hotel library is stocked with books by local authors.

Bold interior design

Salt commissioned French artist Camille Walala to work on the hotel’s design in collaboration with local architect Jean-François Adam of JFA Architects.

Walala’s murals adorn buildings all over the world, but this is her first exploration into full hotel design. Before coming up with the hotel’s concept, she travelled the length of Mauritius, soaking up its bright colours, meeting its people and learning the island’s way of life.

Salt of Palmar, Mauritius

Speaking of her inspiration, she said: “People paint their houses in the most amazing tones that really stand out against the lush tropical setting. 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.”

Balancing Walala’s bright colour palette with local architecture was Jean‐François Adam. “Everything about the hotel is designed to bring people together. From the communal tables in the bakery, restaurant and beach bar, to Mauritius’s first roof-top 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.”

Salt of Palmar, Mauritius

Positive luxury

Rooms may not have TVs or single-use plastics and there are no wasteful buffets but Salt of Palmar proves that sustainability doesn’t come at the expense of luxury. The hotel boasts king-size Carpe Diem beds, developed by physiotherapists for the perfect night’s sleep.

Salt of Palmar, Mauritius

You’ll find yoga mats and rainshowers in every room and a Salt spa designed specifically to “boost your respiratory system, skin, immunity and energy levels”. These extra touches help earn the hotel its Positive Luxury stamp, awarded to brands that balance luxury with mindful, responsible actions.

Salt of Palmar, Mauritius

Rates start from US$200 per double room per night on a bed and breakfast basis.