What’s the point of reading the review of a hotel you probably can’t afford in a country you’ll probably never have the opportunity to visit? As a general rule, I don’t read hotel reviews unless they are relevant to my upcoming or recent trips.
Unusually for me, I didn’t merely flick past a travel magazine review of SALT of Palmar in Mauritius, in large part because it was accompanied by photos of its beautiful, colourful décor, which I then cut out for wall painting ideas at home. Even more unusually, and I’m honestly not exaggerating, I found myself sent to Mauritius for work (though it’s a lot less cushty and unusual than it sounds) over my birthday, May 2019. The day before my birthday, a day off work, I couldn’t ignore the fact of my being in Mauritius with a hire car and a “let’s explore” colleague friend, so we drove across the island from Port Louis to SALT for my (pre) birthday lunch and to assess the hotel’s décor.
I have since read blog posts, Trip Advisor and newspaper and magazine reviews of SALT of Palmar. For a hotel and brand that only opened in November 2018, there is comprehensive coverage in terms of photos, information and reviews, and the seemingly obligatory photos of woman in bikini eating, sunbathing, posing, drinking cocktails, gently kicking up sand while walking along the beach, playfully flicking water at her impossibly adoring and hunky husband; you get the idea. The overall enthusiasm and excellent feedback is a good reflection of how it feels to be at SALT of Palmar and, as their website states, these striking colours really do take their inspiration from the abundant and rich colours around Mauritius, even the black and white. My visit to this hotel was partly from a design-interest perspective but it has also become a bit of a live-greener and without-single-use-plastics influence, and those are the elements I want to share, primarily pictorially.
In case you are reading this because you are contemplating a stay, my impressions of the hotel based on lunch and being shown around the hotel (at my request) and into a room (room 222, a “bang on beach” room), are that it is an absolutely delightful, calm and beautiful place to spend a holiday with a varied enough menu to eat at least most meals there for a week (though lunch and dinner being the same menu is a bit unnecessarily limiting) and non-plastic, locally sourced (except the Swedish beds), eco credentials slightly counter the carbon footprint of flying so far from the UK for a holiday. A special mention should also go to the welcoming, helpful and friendly staff, who were particularly lovely when it came to presenting me with a surprise birthday cake, sparkler and Happy Birthday sung in English then French.
However, there are four things I will point out that I would consider were I to go to Mauritius and stay at SALT of Palmar for a holiday:
1. I would stay in a sea view “bang on beach” room.
A few of the garden rooms actually only look out onto the car park area and opening your curtains to the sea would be a feature of this holiday. A “poolside room” with sea views beyond would also be ok, though a bit noisy from the restaurant and bar around the pool, but I really would do my best to stretch my budget to a bang on beach room.
2. I would hire a car from arrival at the airport for the duration.
It would appear that the hotel’s trips require you to arrange your own travel (taxis, which are non-metered and not particularly cheap) and there is not a lot to do around the hotel within walking distance, though you can hire bicycles or, at a hotel-rate/over-price, rent Mini Cooper convertibles. The roads are fine for anyone used to driving in the UK, especially as Mauritians also drive on the left side. But I do acknowledge that the car element detracts somewhat from the environmentally considerate features of SALT.
3. If I just wanted to stay there for a snoozing, sunbathing, reading, relaxing kind of holiday without leaving the hotel grounds much, budget should be considered as it would be very easy to ratchet up the spending on meals (very expensive compared to also-excellent Mauritian street food), entertainment (salt spa, hotel-organised cultural and culinary activities) and beautifully presented cocktails and drinks.
4. I would stay half my holiday on a different, non-windy side of Mauritius.
The wind on the east coast means the sea isn’t of the lappy, idyllic kind and any lightweight food or paper will blow away and it’s virtually impossible for the staff to light your birthday cake sparkler! The wind element would otherwise stop me from staying on the east coast, despite it being the area with the softest, palest, prettiest (arguably) sand. Every photo I have seen of the SALT of Palmar inner courtyard with its black and white striped pool shows the water as rippled. That is because it is windy. Likewise, look at the shape of the trees along the coast and outside the hotel. It’s the kind of “breeze” you can live with, particularly coming from the UK and breeze being a familiar weather condition, but it’s a bit annoying and makes the sea along Palmar beach a little less inviting for swimming in.
I have suggestions and comments, more than I usually have, for anyone considering a holiday in Mauritius through other blog posts. (link will be in place once they’re posted)