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“Magical location with some earthly concerns.”

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Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef
Ranked #3 of 6 Hotels in Exmouth
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 1, 2013 via mobile

The cape range national park is one of the most beautiful places on earth: incredible reef, crystal clear water and deserted beach to wander. Sal salis is in a privileged position as the only property in the park itself. As the other reviewers have noted, the comfortable tents (great beds!) and solid food and wine elevate the experience beyond camping...although these amenities come with a hefty price tag.

A key issue with sal salis is the price-value equation. For the price tag, the service needs to be spiffed up a bit. The staff is young, and while cheerful, is in need of some management and guest focus. They did seem to be more interested in their own group dynamics than the guests. I get it. If i were 25 and only working somewhere for 3 months,i wouldn't stress too much either. The chefs are enthusiastic; i would characterize the food as good not great. The guided walks were fine if not the most fascinating, with the whaleshark tour being well worth the additional tariff.

The most serious issue with sal salis was information. After leaving the ningaloo reef area (and reentering the world of wifi and internet) we learned that there was a warning issued by the australian govt regarding irukandji jelly fish in the ningaloo reef area during early may. These jellyfish can kill you! There were a spate of stings in the area that resulted in hospitalizations earlier in the month. This was not mentioned at sal salis, despite the fact that they make you sign a bodily harm disclaimer! Hey, thanks for being a friend...

While i understand that this sort of info can hurt tourism, it is necessary to be upfront with guests regarding these kinds of risks, particularly in such a remote location. If they were not aware ( which i do not believe), that is in some ways even worse. I was very angry when i first found out about this lack of disclosure. I am more zen now, but still believe it was immoral.

  • Stayed: May 2013
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3  Thank CB172
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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154 - 160 of 213 reviews

Reviewed May 27, 2013

We had a lovely time at Sal Salis. The camp is situated in an amazing location - nestled into the sand dunes facing the ocean. It's amazing watching the sunset over the ocean and waking up to the sound of crashing waves in the morning. We really enjoyed it but I found it difficult to justify the cost for the experience (at $1,500 for a couple per night).

For us, the food was a highlight. There are 2 chefs at Sal Salis (one is Chilean and the other is Malaysian). During our stay, we had the Chilean chef Pedro. His food was excellent. Lunch was a 2 course meal with 3 courses being served for dinner at night (plus generous canapes before dinner). Breakfast was a basic spread of cereals and pastries one morning, with a hot breakfast being served on another morning. The food was restaurant quality, really delicious and well presented. We also enjoyed the wine and other drinks on offer. They have an open bar so guests can help themselves whenever they like. I think the previous reviewer was being pretty fussy criticising the wine - it was fine and very drinkable.

All the staff are very professional and welcoming. Activities such as the snorkelling tours were well run and the guides made sure they looked out for every guest. All the equipment (masks, wet suits etc) are supplied so that makes it easy. The guides brought morning and afternoon tea to the snorkelling spots so they looked after the guests at every opportunity.

The tents are clean and comfortable (bed was very comfy). I'd read about the 3 minute showers so was prepared for the water restrictions. You are camping so you have to accept that it's not going to be a "typical" 5 star experience. As for some of the disappointed reviews on this site, I think the problem arises when people expect a 5 star experience because they are paying 5 star prices (which isn't unreasonable). For $1,500 a night, you could stay in some pretty amazing places. If you have a lot of money, this probably won't bother you but if like us, this was a splurge, you may be left questioning whether the experience was worth the cost.

The other thing to keep in mind is that all meals are eaten at a communal dining table with the other guests. So this camp is probably not the place for a honeymoon or romantic anniversary getaway. We met some lovely guests but also some rather pretentious ones so it was luck of the draw who you were sitting next to. It would be good if you had the option of dining alone with your partner at least on one of the nights. Having said that, if you were travelling by yourself, this would be a great place to come to. You woudn't be lonely at meal times and there are scheduled actitvites during the day that you can do with other guests.

Overall, we had a really nice experience. If you are looking for something different and you have buckets of money, then you'll enjoy your stay. However, if you are looking for a "$1500 a night" experience, you may be left feeling a little disappointed.

(A tip: avoid paying for airport transfers to the camp if you can - it's much better value to hire a car and drive there yourself - an easy drive).

(Another tip: we stayed a couple of nights at the Novotel in Exmouth before we arrived at Sal Salis. I'd suggest you do your whale shark tour before you get to the camp as it's a bit of a waste to stay at Sal Salis and then be gone for the whole day while you are out on the whale shark boat. Do the whale shark tour before you arrive at Sal Salis so you can enjoy all the camp has to offer when you arrive).

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Travelbuddy010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 27, 2013

I echo Ralph's sentiments ( I was there at the same time). The beautiful tropical reef running in parallel to sandy beaches and the red desert is unique, as is the opportunity to spend time at the tent village located in a World Heritage listed National Park. The staff, everyone of them, consistently acted in integrity, always demonstrating a respectful understanding of our irreplaceable Australian environment, always taking the time to share their knowledge and experience. During the day they were the experts planning and guiding us through a series of adventures and in the evening they were our hosts as we sat on the deck enjoying the setting sun, canapes,drinks and friendly easy conversation. This was without doubt one of the best holiday experiences I have had. I know the feeling of bliss in the simple things like a short shower, a walk across a dusty track into a gorge beautiful beyond belief, or snorkeling quietly over a coral reef-- just being! As for no internet and my anticipated pain and dislocation from my mainstream 24/7 life; it was a myth. I enjoyed talking with and getting to know some very special people, face-to- face. Congratulations to the staff you did an amazing job!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Elizabeth K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 26, 2013

Sal Salis was everything we had hoped for and more – the tents (particularly those beds!) were spacious and comfortable, the staff incredibly attentive, the food was some of the best I’ve had and the location of the resort itself is unmatched.
The snorkelling and coral is some of the best, and Ocean Eco Adventures who operated the whale shark charter, were professional, knowledgeable and friendly.
People may complain about the restricted 20L water for showers etc but we found this to be more than sufficient.
Visiting Ningaloo Reef and having the opportunity to swim with the whale sharks was truly memorable. Staying at Sal Salis to complement this experience was definitely worthwhile.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Kate M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 24, 2013

Sal Salis has one thing going for it-LOCATION
The main complaint is that it does not live up to expectations. It is not like the advertising and it is extremely expensive.
I will not comment on the toilets or the 20 litres of water per person but i will comment on the absence of quality in the food, presentation and management. These are fixable.
Presentation of food was poor. It did not appear appetising.eg breakfast consisted of 4 jars of cereal a bowl of yoghurt and a bowl of unappetising fruit and some heated up sara lee pastries. We did not see fresh vegetables for two days. We did not have fresh fish. A bbq would have been good instead if stir fries. Overall the food was edible, ordinary not fresh or particularly appealing.OK if you are paying a lot, lot less .
Drinks are at six. Why not make the area look prepared and inviting with the candles lit and nuts or olives for a change already on the table, not wait for guests to do this
It would have been good to have had enough white wine glasses for the group and not be served in a chipped glass. Why not lash out and get two hot water containers so there is no waiting for tea or coffee
Dont run out of champagne or should i say sparkling chard Improve the quality of the wine served so everyone isn't fighting over the one reasonable bottle.
When on the whale swimming trip towels get very wet and mixed up. They were not replaced and the group of 10 were told there were no more towels. Buy some.
The tent leaks. Yes it rained. The tent mat just should be replaced and spring for another tub of water so the floors are mopped occasionally. Bed very comfortable.
There was the ominous smell of sewerage from the communal toilet area on the third day.
Staff were friendly and the activities good although there is a definite lack of attention to detail that only adequate management would provide.
Overall the problems would not have concerned me but at the cost of this resort an impeccable experience should be provided.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank rebecca s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 11, 2013

I did not stay at Sal Salis, but I did go on a fishing charter with their boat and captain (Murray). Out of all the fishing charters in Exmouth I highly recommend this one, even though it is not easy to find when searching online. Me and 4 friends had an incredible day where we caught trolled for sailfish, bottom fished and caught dinner, did some shark fishing and finished the day catching mackeral just off the back of the reef. We were by far the most succesful charter boat of the day and Murray was an excellent captain who put in the time and effort, and really knew his stuff.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Jack C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2013

If you want something different, and have a quite a few extra dollars to spare, then Sal Salis is a very enjoyable experience. The first thing to get used to is the heat - 41C when we arrived. The tent house accommodation was very well done, although the restricted amount of daily water supply (for showers etc) kept us slightly on edge. Great location in the national park, and an interesting area with its military base history (Exmouth to the north). Service standards were very high and very friendly. Snorkling experiences were fun, but the highlight would definitely be "swimming with the Whale Sharks" experience. Star gazing after dinner with a few night caps took any worries about the world away. Thanks guys.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Steve-S-0604
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WildBush, Owner at Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, responded to this reviewResponded May 5, 2013

Thank you for taking time to write up your experience at Sal Salis - it is greatly appreciated. 41C is hotter than normal for April and, given our very 'eco' style of operation, we do not have the power generating infrastructure to cool the tents as such. The only real respite is going for a dip in the sea, which at least is only a very short walk from the tents and this is obviously the nature of Sal Salis anyway.
I am delighted that you enjoyed the food and the friendly nature of the hospitality.
Thank you again.

Charles Carlow
Director/Owner

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

Address: Yardie Creek Rd | Cape Range National Park, Exmouth, Western Australia 6707, Australia
Location: Australia > Western Australia > Exmouth
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 6 Hotels in Exmouth
Price Range: $1,088 - $1,385 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef 4.5*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef is an eco resort consisting of 16 en-suite Wilderness Tents. The Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef is a few short steps away where a totally different and amazing world waits to be explored and enjoyed. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef Hotel Exmouth

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