Lifestyle

Experience a Different Side of Mauritius at Salt of Palmar [Review]

Salt of Palmar offers travellers the ultimate cultural experience.

Sun, sand, palm trees, and cocktails – that’s what comes to mind when most people think about holidaying in Mauritius. But, Salt of Palmar, a new type of Mauritian holiday resort, is looking to show visitors a different side of the popular island by encouraging guests to explore beyond the walls of the resort. Don’t get me wrong, Salt of Palmar does the sun, sand, palm trees and cocktails part exceptionally well, but the progressive resort aims to offer you so much more… for those days when sitting poolside under an umbrella gets a little tired.

We arrived at Salt of Palmar for the last leg of our 5-day Mauritius trip after spending two days sunning ourselves at Beachcomber Paradis Golf Resort and Spa. It was a massive shift in mindset moving to Salt as it was almost the polar opposite of the resort we had just come from. While Paradis is a massive resort with over 280 rooms, stretching across seven kilometres of shoreline, Salt offers a modest 59 guest rooms with a private wrap-around beach. While the hotel and rooms at Paradis resemble the more traditional style of large resort décor, Salt offers an Instagrammer’s paradise, with the halls and rooms decorated in a bold, pop-art style design, with local craft finishes and eco-friendly touches to round it off. The two resorts couldn’t be any more different, which is exactly what we wanted.

Salt of Palmar

And now for something completely different…

With such an intimate setting, you really become part of the family when staying at Salt of Palmar. Travellers looking for something a little extraordinary will love the fact that there truly is no place quite like Salt anywhere else on the island of Mauritius. From homespun ceramics in the restaurants to handwoven beach bags and all-natural locally-made toiletries in the rooms, Salt is about celebrating all things local.

What’s more, the hotel revolves around a focus on sustainability and environmental consciousness above all, with no single-use plastics being used within the resort and biodegradable packaging being favoured for all the guest amenities. Guests are also gifted an aluminium water bottle which can be filled with a choice of still or sparkling water at the pool-side water bar whenever thirst strikes. It’s these little environmentally-friendly touches that make Salt feel like a truly modern resort and it’s a great feeling knowing your holiday won’t have a negative effect on the planet. Even better news, Salt of Palmar is also a vegan-certified hotel, making it the obvious choice for vegan guests looking for a resort that suits their lifestyle.

Salt of Palmar

Bon appétit

Even the food at Salt is different from any other holiday spots on the island. With a zero-waste policy, Salt is committed to sustainable, clean, fresh food with a focus on health and the environment. The team of local chefs design the daily-changing menu around whatever farmers and fishermen provide that day, using ancient cooking methods like the wok, tandoor oven, and charcoal grill, to take guests on a culinary journey across Mauritius and beyond.

While Salt is all about offering guests the very best quality ingredients, the kitchen staff try their absolute best to ensure the ingredients on the menu are sourced locally or made in-house. The Salt Farm (which cultivates hydroponic produce) supplies fresh fruit and vegetables while the on-site bakery also produces freshly-made bread, pastries, African coffee, local teas and a selection of tropical juices.

Salt of Palmar

Dinner at the Salt restaurant.

Eat like a local

At Salt, you can be sure you’re getting the opportunity to eat like a local. Whether you’re enjoying a fresh-from-the-ocean Twice Cooked Octopus dish at the on-site restaurant or tucking into a family-style feast at Mirella’s house in the nearby village, Salt ensures your meals have a generous helping of local flavour. Over the 2 days we spent at Salt, we gorged ourselves on tasty local-inspired breakfasts, freshly baked bread with local peanut butter, handmade banana chip snacks, and a moreish 3-course dinner in the on-site restaurant.

For our first night at Salt. were invited to have dinner with Salt’s family hostess, Mirella, at her and her husband’s home in the nearby village. Dinner plays an important part in family life on the island and experiencing an authentic Mauritian dining experience with Mirella and her family was beyond exciting. You can read more about Mirella and the rest of the “Salt shakers” team here.

Salt of Palmar

Dinner at Mirella’s.

But why is the rum gone…

Arriving at Mirella’s home was a little like a baptism of fire. Mirella greeted us with a massive smile at the gate of her family home and quickly ushered us into the living room where she had laid out an authentic Mauritian rum tasting. The girlfriend and I are rum lovers, and we were looking forward to trying Mirella’s home-made rum infusions, but 11 shots of rum later (straight, no chaser!) we realised we were lightweights compared to the Mauritians who had grown up drinking the stuff. Luckily Mirella had also supplied starter platters of samoosas, devilled eggs, and onion bhaji to coat our empty stomachs, making the rum tasting a little less catastrophic for us foreigners.

A few glasses of water later, we had sobered up and were ready to tuck into Mirella’s homemade feast of chicken curry, Sausage Rougail, and lamb chops served with a side of rice, beans, and vegetables. While we stuffed our faces, we chatted with Mirella and her husband about life on the island, how they met, their children, and every other topic under the sun. We laughed the night away like old friends and before we knew it, our taxi had arrived to whisk us back to the hotel. We reluctantly said goodbye to Mirella and her family, our stomachs full and hearts warm from a magical night spent enjoying a taste of Mauritian hospitality.

Salt of Palmar

Tasting Mirella’s rum infusions.

So much more than just the beach

While you may be tempted to while away the hours lounging next to Salt’s stunning Olympic-sized swimming pool or relaxing on an over-sized bean bag on the beach, at Salt there’s so much more to do. The resort offers the usual water activities (daily snorkelling excursions, glass-bottom boat trips, and kayak rental), which is, of course, a brilliant way to enjoy the sparkling blue waters that surround the hotel, but Salt also offers travellers a chance to really immerse themselves in the culture of Mauritius or expand their travel horizons with a unique activity.

Through the super handy Salt experience app (which serves as your digital event calendar, guide book, and even room key during your stay), guests are offered plenty of opportunities to stay active or explore beyond the confines of the resort. Simply open the app to see the events planned for each day and book your spot for one of the excursions around the island or activities within the resort.

Get busy living

Bicycle tours to the local Flacq market, music lessons by the light of the bonfire, cooking demonstrations with the Salt chefs, six-a-side football with a local football team, sound meditations with the resident yoga instructor, lessons in mixology from Salt’s bar staff, photography tours with local artists, and float fit exercises classes in the pool with Salt’s on-site personal trainer – these are just some of the ways to fill your day at Salt of Palmar. The resort offers a wide variety of activities, some of which are free to all guests and others at an additional cost.

Guests are offered even more opportunities to relax and unwind at the hotel’s library, filled with books and games to occupy the mind, and the Salt Equilibrium spa, complete with a salt room, five treatment rooms and a team of expert therapists to help re-energise your body.

Salt of Palmar

Introduction to mixology.

The ultimate cultural experience

Perfectly progressive, Salt of Palmar offers travellers the ultimate cultural experience. But, perhaps the best thing about Salt is its people. With their brimming smiles, willingness to chat and share with guests, and passion for the Salt ethos, the staff at Salt of Palmar make staying at this incredible resort an unforgettable experience. Their friendly attitude and openness is contagious and encourages guest to be a lot more sociable and outgoing with the staff and fellow guests, something you don’t often see at larger resorts where guests tend to want to stick to themselves.

This welcoming, homey feel makes Salt of Palmar a solo traveller’s dream. While I wasn’t travelling solo for this trip, the girlfriend and I found ourselves making friends with fellow guests all around the resort and it wasn’t uncommon to overhear guests exchanging travel stories over cocktails at the bar or a cup of coffee at the communal table at the Salt bakery.

Salt of Palmar

Float fit at Salt of Palmar.

Book with Salt of Palmar

If you’ve been to the island a few times and are looking for a whole new way to explore Mauritius, I cannot recommend Salt of Palmar enough. This unique holiday resort is a great option for those who prefer a more personalised boutique hotel feel to a large resort as well as eco-conscious travellers and those wanting a more authentic Mauritian experience.

With rates starting from R4,700 per double room per night, Salt of Palmar offers South African travellers a lot of bang for their buck. We stayed on a half-board basis (including breakfast and dinner), which worked out to about R6,800 per night for 2 people sharing. For an extra R1,000 per person, this package was well worth the price as it gave us the opportunity to order pretty much whatever we wanted on the breakfast and dinner menus without having to count our pennies or convert to Rands. There are also loads of special offers available for guests looking for a great deal.

Visit the Salt resorts website and book your stay at Salt of Palmar now.

Salt of Palmar

Getting to Mauritius

The great thing about Mauritius is it’s a quick 3.5, 4 or 5-hour flight from South Africa, depending on where you’re flying from. We flew direct to Mauritius from Cape Town on-board Air Mauritius. Air Mauritius offers daily flights from Johannesburg (OR Tambo International Airport), Twice weekly flights from Cape Town, and four times weekly from Durban. With Economy class fares starting from R3,380 per person*, it’s a no-brainer flying with Air Mauritius.

This was my second time flying with Air Mauritius and I was beyond impressed with the airline. They’ve upgraded the planes since I last flew with them a few years ago, boasting more comfortable seats, an improved onboard entertainment system, and ample storage space for carry-on luggage. The Air Mauritius staff on-board our flights were extremely friendly and helpful and even the dreaded plane food was delicious and fresh!

Air Mauritius

As if that’s not enough, Air Mauritius offers some pretty great benefits to passengers flying to Mauritius and beyond. Economy passengers enjoy a whopping 2 x 20kg check-in luggage allowance, making it an over-packer’s dream. The airline’s Smart Travel programme also offers all sorts of benefits like one free ticket for the bride for honeymooners, free golf bag transfer, free business class lounge access for the whole family in South Africa, and free flights for 2 kids under 12-years when flying with 2 parents.

What’s more, if you use Mauritius as a stop-over destination, you’ll also enjoy faster travelling times thanks to the island’s geographical location. Mauritius is just a 6hr30min flight to Perth, 7hr10min flight to Singapore, and 6hr10min flight to Mumbai. The airline also offers free stopovers in Mauritius (including accommodation and meals on all non-connecting flights), last-minute upgrades to Business class, and free date changes in any booking class**

Visit the Air Mauritius website to book your flight to Mauritius now.

(* lowest published fares; subject to change) | (**subject to fare class rules).

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