Mustique, Mysterious, Magical Island

TRAVEL & UNDERSAIL

 

Cotton House

Discerning globe-trotters gush about Mustique in lofty superlatives that range from “privileged” to “perfect.” As part of St.Vincent and The Grenadines chain, the tiny, three mile long, one and a half mile wide dot of luxuriant, rolling terrain and deserted white beaches appears from a distance like a jewel afloat in the Caribbean’s turquoise waters. Once ashore though, it takes no time at all for visitors to become captivated by the island’s very real yet erudite mystique.

 

That’s understandable when you realize that a lucky circumstance caused it to benefit from gentle cosseting spawned by the 1958 purchase of the 1,400 acre island by Lord Clenconner (the Honorable Colin Tennant) for around $67,000. After subsequent visits from curious pals, Tennant’s presentation of a 10-acre plot to Princess Margaret Rose as a wedding present in 1960 inadvertently catapulted Mustique into fame.

 

Cotton House, Cotton Hill Residence's pool

The sensational gift triggered Margaret’s enlistment of Oliver Messel, (her uncle by marriage) Britain’s most celebrated theatrical set designer, to create a magnificent villa she promptly named “Les Jolies Eaux.” In no time, tabloid coverage of the often naughty princess’s fiascos, hi-jinx and social escapades, brought hordes of celebrities and jet-setters to the island.

 

Currently, the purposely-unspoiled island is privately-owned by The Mustique Company, which Tennant founded in 1968 to develop the former sea-island cotton and sugar cane estate into the ultra-sophisticated getaway it has become. Its members consist of property owners from 17 countries, who are determined to maintain Mustique’s persona and hold commercialism firmly at bay. As a result, there is only one hotel (17-room Cotton House), a five-room guest house (Firefly) and quirky Basil’s Bar. Corea’s Food Store stocks basic supplies; the Fish Market offers daily catches and Sweetie Pie Bakery tempts with freshly baked delights. Other than two tiny boutiques, a little bamboo church and Community Library, there are no traffic lights, power lines, beach vendors or litter. The speed limit is 20 mph.

 

Mustique Beach House

The scene of pure eye-candy includes 102 spectacular villas, of which 74, two to nine bedroom homes are currently available for weekly rentals. These meticulously landscaped properties, designed and decorated by some of the world’s most famous architects and designers, range from "Caribbean Gingerbread" to Palladian styles. Whether beach-front or hillside, they feature private pools, sea views and the utter privacy and discretion high-profile guests demand.

 

Thanks to a partnership with Grenadine Airways, the Mustique Experience begins in either Barbados or St. Lucia, where guests board Twin Otter aircraft (up to 18 seats) for the 45-minute flight to the island’s grass-lined airstrip. There, a personal greeting by villa or hotel staff creates an immediate encounter with the island’s congeniality. It also sets the tone for the underlying sense of intimacy that consistently attracts a roster of royalty and celebrities (from Tommy Hilfiger to Mick Jagger; Prince Andrew, and David Bowie  among others,) who adore hiding out here.

 

Beach House, Mustique

If you’re not renting a villa or moored on a yacht, Cotton House offers some of the finest accommodations in the Caribbean. The original 18th century cotton warehouse and sugar mill, distinguished by graceful arches, thick cedar shutters and louvred doors, was (reconstructed and redecorated by Oliver Messel and)\ recently redone in 2007. Guestrooms are in five restored Georgian houses, three cottages, and a new block of four and five room beach houses, all of which open onto dramatic breeze-swept patios and balconies. The epitome of luxury plays out in the Tower Suite which sprawls along the entire second floor, or Cotton Hill, a two-bedroom villa with a private pool.

 

The pristine white décor of the Veranda Restaurant becomes the perfect backdrop for chic Caribbean attire while glam pareos or gauzy tunics look perfect at the Beach Café Restaurant and Bar, where casual lunches (of just-caught-fish, local produce, lobster and designer pizzas) are served above Endeavor Bay’s lapping surf. Sybaritic treatments are administered in the Cotton House Spa which also enjoys stunning water views.

 

Cotton House entrance

The other beloved hostelry is Firefly, a totally unglamorous 1972 B & B that was happily rescued in the late 90s by Stan and Elizabeth Clayton, who lovingly transformed the property. Today, the pristine five-bedroom guesthouse feels airy and welcoming with serene fabrics, whirring ceiling fans, mosquito-netted four-poster beds and bathrooms with plunge pools. You will be hard put to choose among utterly enchanting nests named Hummingbird, Treehouse, Pineapple, Seashell and Royal Palm. When you’re not lounging at the beach or pool, you’ll love the buzzy bar and restaurant, two of the liveliest and most popular venues on the island.

 

During your visit, stray to Basil’s Bar, a legendary dive owned by Basil Charles. During our first visit, we hopped off a sailboat for a quick dinner there and wound up spending a few days. Like us, everyone invariably drifts to the thatched-roofed, wooden deck on bamboo stilts above Brittania Beach for drinks, casual dining, or to rub shoulders with the glitterati who gravitate here. Don’t miss the famous banana pancakes and French toast, and be sure to reserve a table for Wednesday Night’s savory barbecue and live music, or Sunday’s lavish buffet of local dishes.

 

Sienna pool

 

When you’re not snuggling your toes in the unbelievably powdery sand at Macaroni or Pasture beaches, or perusing the little boutiques along Brittania Beach, you can saddle up a thoroughbred from the Equestrian Center or hike the verdant nature trails. Tennis courts are complimentary and there is every imaginable kind of water sport available (including windsurfing and sailing, scuba diving and snorkeling.)

 

Although the staff can arrange an array of diversions, including fishing and day sails to nearby islands, it’s a safe bet you’ll opt to stay put on marvelous Mustique whose extraordinary sense of élan, feels like a sophisticated private club.

 

                                                                  --Marion Laffey Fox

 

 

Sienna facade & pool

Sunris view

Tanama & pool

 

 

 

Information:
The Mustique Company Ltd. Tel: 784-488-8000 Fax: 784-488-9000
www.mustique-island.com
Manager Villa Rentals: Victoria Hawbecker

855 261 1316 or victoria@mustique.vc

Cotton House
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
1-784 456-4777
Or Toll Free 1 -888-CLA 8380
reservations@cottonhouse.net

Firefly Tel:784-488-8424 Fax: 784-488-8514 enquiries@fireflymustique.com

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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