Set in the village of Palmar on the east coast of Mauritius, the SALT of Palmar boutique hotel is the island’s first property to fall under Design Hotels’ diverse portfolio, having made waves in the local hospitality scene for its bold design, contemporary dining concept and commitment to giving back to its community. Located on a miniature peninsula between two bays with calm turquoise waters, the adults-only hotel sits close to the nearby Flacq market – the largest outdoor market in the area selling fabrics, food and handicrafts – as well as the fishing village of Trou d’Eau Douce, known for its corrugated iron huts, mazes of picturesque streets and friendly inhabitants.
The east side of the island showcases a lot of the natural abundance present on the island, from traditional villages to swathes of raw beachfront, sugarcane fields, mangroves and lagoons, in addition to reminding visitors of the island’s rich mix of African, Indian, Chinese and French cultures.
Taking all these attributes into consideration, Mauritius-born and -based architect Jean-François Adam renovated the hotel’s existing structure, which was originally built in the style of a traditional Moroccan riad – the elements of which still exist within the property today – but now takes better consideration of its surrounding natural landscape of tall palm trees and endless sea. “We had to bring these natural elements into the interiors,” explains Adam. “We reorientated all the beds to face the sea and redesigned the pool for a better connection to the beach.”
French artist and designer Camille Walala – known for her vibrant and chromatic designs – was later brought into the project to inject her creativity into the overall interiors concept. “I was blown away by the vibrant colours around the island,” she says. “People paint their houses in the most amazing tones that really stand out against the emerald green of the plants and the ever-changing colours of the sky. I wanted to marry these tones with my signature pop colours.”
While the façade is painted peach with royal blue accents, the daybeds are a vibrant turquoise with orange piping, and even the beach towels are a canary yellow. Walala also worked with an extraordinary range of artisans on the island – referred to as the hotel’s ‘Salt Shakers’ – to develop the entire range of furnishings. Everything from the woven chairs by the pool and the rug in the library to the mosaic tables, cushions and sunbeds are bespoke. SALT of Palmar comprises 50 guest rooms, which also feature playful splashes of colour, such as the fiery orange-red chairs and similarly hued tiled showers, with plants set in painted ceramic pots, and black-and-white striped cushions. Every room is equipped with a custom mattress by Carpe Diem, a company founded by a Swedish chiropractor, a bespoke guidebook and small selection of books by local authors, a beach basket made from recycled plastics by local artisan Reotee Buleeram, and refillable, all-natural toiletries. Natural products are used in treatments at the hotel’s intimate spa, SALT Equilibrium, which also has a salt room for halotherapy.
It is no surprise that upon visiting the island in 1896, Mark Twain wrote: “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
Read more about Mauritius’ other hotel here.