Introducing SALT of Palmar, Mauritius: A colour safari by Camille Walala & Jean-François Adam
19 November 2018
The first resort from new brand, SALT, opens its doors revealing show‐stopping style inspired by an island of colour
Newly launched hotel brand, SALT, has opened the doors to its first resort, 59‐key SALT of Palmar located on the east coast of Mauritius. It is a restful base conceived to champion sustainability, connect with the local community and introduce culturally curious, style savvy, modern travellers to the real, unvarnished Mauritius.
Its distinctive look is born out of collaboration between local Mauritian architect Jean‐François Adam of JFA Architects, an award‐winning visionary behind notable contemporary spaces in Mauritius and abroad; and French artist, Camille Walala, whose vivid murals adorn buildings across the globe. Camille’s first foray into the hotel world brings a stunning new addition to Mauritius’ design landscape that reflects the progressive spirit of SALT.
Devoted to the wonder of all things local and sustainable, the unconventional 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 Jean‐François’ 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 incredible existing geometric, riad‐like building on the fringe of Palmar beach’s pure white sand, he carefully 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. Fauna and flora have been protected throughout this project; adding a sense of timeless serenity to the scene. Jean‐François’ explained, “Everything about the hotel is designed to bring people together. From the communal tables in the bakery, restaurant and beach bar, to Mauritius’ 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.”
With the energy of doing things differently living at the heart of the SALT brand, it is fitting that the interiors were realised by an artist instead of an interior designer. Camille Walala’s uninhibited approach to colour married with her passion for the island of Mauritius made her the perfect choice.
Camille’s task was to find the perfect balance between her own creative impulse and the authentic expression of the island’s character – fresh, playful and irresistibly positive in outlook. To find inspiration, she travelled around Mauritius, meeting with local artisans and absorbing the bright palette that punctuates the island; from verdant landscapes, brightly painted houses, azure seascapes and show‐stopping sunsets, to the spirit of its communities and the colourful mosaic of culture that makes Mauritius so special. Walala commented, “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.”
Paul Jones, CEO of The Lux Collective says “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. 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 feel happy.”
Detailing throughout the hotel is authentic, artisanal and unique. Local ceramicist Janine designed and crafted the hotel’s tableware – a beautiful set of 950 individual pieces for SALT of Palmar; each one made entirely by hand. 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.”
With the support of Jean‐François’ and his team, Camille met an array of local characters, such as 74‐year‐old basket weaver Reotee Buleeram who has crafted the beautiful 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. The result is a showcase of local talent and an authentic expression of island style. Jean‐François recalls, “visiting artisan workshops with Camille to collaborate on the intricate details was very special. These experiences were the most rewarding moments of the project.”
The culmination is a hotel that looks unlike any other on the island. Where most resorts take their own design template and transplant it into their setting, SALT has done the reverse, channelling the character of its surroundings to shape its look and feel.
SALT of Palmar connects modern explorers with communities and their way of life, which makes for meaningful travel experiences. 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, home‐grown, seasonal and zero‐waste, with the majority of the produce coming from the SALT Farm that cultivates hydroponic fruit and vegetables (opening end of first quarter 2019) and local bio‐farms. Recognising the strong connections between people, plate and planet, and the fact that food choices have a major impact on the environment and on the health of its guests, SALT is committed towards Good, Clean and Fair food. Whilst the resort’s chefs are committed members of Slow Food International and part of Slow Food Chefs Alliance, SALT of Palmar is working closely with Earth Markets Mauritius, its local official representative. SALT adheres to Slow Food Travel promoting ecotourism and providing all our guests a culinary journey, full of stories, traditions, flavours and craftsmanship. Guests can also be confident that sustainability and environmental consciousness is at the core of the hotel. Simply by staying, they contribute to empowering local communities as the hotel sources everything it can locally, creates employment, and preserves the environment by going single‐use plastic free, supporting biofarming and causing zero‐waste.
All of this has positioned SALT of Palmar as a practising advocate of sustainability. Its partnership with Positive Luxury means that it proudly carries the butterfly mark awarded to brands that balance luxury with mindful, responsible actions. The team behind SALT ensure guests have truly luxurious stays in destinations they take real strides to protect.
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