This overly optimistic local news piece from Jordan last December – based on this press release – seems to have been accurate. Jordan’s Arabic papers are reporting today that the lovely old Ottoman town of Salt, west of Amman, is about to get its first-ever hotel.
This can only be good. Anything that draws visitors off Jordan’s far-too-beaten tourist track is to be welcomed.
And Salt is lovely – historic, attractive, easygoing, almost completely untouristed. I introduce it here. You can find that gorgeous Ottoman architecture – balconies, pointed arches, stained glass, honeyed limestone – all over Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, but it’s a rarity in Jordan, which historically was a rural backwater, lacking urban sophistication – or, in truth, cities of any kind.
Indeed, Salt is just about the only place in Jordan to hold any sort of urban history extending back beyond the middle of last century. As such it has huge potential in tourism, but also in domestically-focused heritage – and so has had money lavished on it over the last few years from both the Japanese government (PDF from 2011) and the US government (article from 2011). That Japanese involvement is continuing: this (PDF Oct 2012) talks about an ongoing three-year project developing sustainable tourism in Salt.
Like I said, all good. Salt deserves a slice of the pie. I hope more Jordanians, as well as tourists, spend time in the place, walking its alleys, admiring its views, hearing its bells, climbing its hills, soaking up the atmosphere of its fine old Hammam Street souk. Just a little bit Jerusalem. A little bit.
As for the new hotel itself, named Saltos, I haven’t seen it. Check their Facebook and Twitter. But knowing the location – and reading that it has 23 rooms and “limited food and beverage offerings” – my guess is it’s a modest affair.
Modest is good. Jordan needs luxury tourism like a hole in the head.