An innovative couple is creating a wellness hub in Praia da Luz
Bursting at the seams with ideas and projects, innovative couple Ben Crossland and Zoe Valetta have been working on Sal, “the brand and style of living”. Taking inspiration from the beautiful area they live in, Praia da Luz, Sal consists of a serene spa, five holiday apartments and a boutique store. The pair launched Sal Spa Luz back in December 2020. They stumbled across the building which was previously a shared pool for an existing holiday complex. Evidently, Ben is quite the handyman and Zoe had a natural flair for interior design, so together, they decided to save the pool from the potential dull fate of becoming a garage. As they started to work on the space, with their own bare hands, ideas started to emerge and Sal Spa was born.
Since then, the wellness destination has become increasingly popular and has evolved immensely to keep up with demand. “The vision was to create an efficient yet tranquil space for the local community,” Zoe explains. “Somewhere where locals can escape their daily grind and recharge their batteries; all on their doorstep, all year round.”
Their indoor salt-water heated pool features resistance swim jets designed for exercising at your own pace, as well as powerful hydro jets to massage the upper body. In the steam room, you can add your own essential oils to relax and repair your muscles. Guests can enjoy the steam room and the sauna to cleanse airways and detox the skin, and then plunge under the cold-water shower or in between sessions to improve circulation.
There are also several treatments on offer to suit everyone’s needs, including a range of massage treatments, facial treatments and body wraps, from specialist surfing massages to pre-natal experiences. “We wanted to open a wellness centre for the community,” says Zoe. “From newborns to kids to pregnant women and people of all ages and needs.”
Above the spa lies the SAL shop. Within the store, you can expect to see clothing, jewellery and accessories sourced from independent, sustainable brands from across the world, all handpicked by Zoe. Also featured is a number of their own SAL products, including candles and linen spray.
Zoe has been putting a huge amount of effort into the store recently and states: “Every item and brand is chosen to offer our customers the best range of independent European brands. We want to bring back the beauty of unique items, of every product we stock a really limited number and the collections are never repeated.”
Outside of the spa premises, they also own five apartments as part of Sal Homes and are “Superhosts” on Airbnb. Zoe is no stranger to interior design as, growing up, her mother owned a series of successful décor stores in Rome. Each apartment is carefully decorated to exude the same feel of calm and comfort, in keeping with the Sal brand.
All of the couple’s rentals are located in the heart of Praia da Luz and are a short walk away from the beach and the spa. “We wanted to convey beauty in every aspect, from the moment our guests open their eyes in their comfortable bed. Every fine detail was intended to make the guest feel at home with the added luxury of stylish design and amazing views.”
And if three projects (and a baby in between) weren’t enough for the couple, Ben and Zoe always hold the community’s needs to heart. Recently, Zoe has been at the forefront of a team who created a pop-up store dedicated to Ukrainian refugees to ensure they have access to clothes and other necessities. She has also been involved in rehoming families and pointing them in the right direction to work and other areas of support. Often, they will even hold fundraising events within the spa for local charities.
It is incredible to think that from the restoration of a pool, Sal has been born. And, despite having so much on their plate, Sal continues to represent calm and refuge. Their high standard of design and construction through Ben and Zoe’s separate passions sets them apart from other independent spas, boutiques and holiday rentals. However, their desire to contribute to the community may be what makes Sal so special.
By Alex Brennan