|ISLAND PARADISE: Colorful boats and signs line the beach at Britannia Bay.
photography by R.P. Washburne
THE MYSTIQUE: The small private island of Mustique, located about 18 miles south of St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean, is probably the largest international playground for the rich and famous. Measuring 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long, the island of rolling hills and lush terrain is surrounded by nine deserted white sand beaches and clear aquamarine sea. In 1958, 25 years before Robin Leach had his first champagne wish or caviar dream, Lord Glenconner, the Honorable Colin Tennant of Scotland, bought the scrubby little island for $67,500. In 1960, he gifted his good friends and newlyweds Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon a 10-acre plot of land high on a hill overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The couple built Les Jolies Eaux, a sprawling mansion designed by legendary English stage designer Oliver Messel, which immediately became party central in the 1960s and ’70s for celebrities and royals in part because privacy was (and still is) strictly protected in Mustique. A lot of the revelers liked what they saw and stayed. Before long, the island was populated by some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, and business. THEIR PLACE IS YOURS: There are about 100 privately owned homes on Mustique, 65 of which are in the island’s rental program run by The Mustique Company (www.mustique-island.com). David Bowie sold his house to publishing magnate Felix Denis, but Mick Jagger’s home, which he still frequents, is available, as is Bryan Adams’, and the aforementioned Les Jolies Eaux, now privately owned. The hard part is getting someone to tell you which one is which. An agent with The Mustique Company said, “There isn’t enough rum in the Grenadines to get me to tell you who owns what.” HANG COOL: The best place to find out who is who, and certainly the most affordable way to experience the awe of Mustique, is from one of the 17 luxurious guest rooms, cottages, or suites at The Cotton House (www.cottonhouse.net). Originally an 18th-century cotton warehouse and sugar mill, this 13-acre property was carefully restored by Oliver Messel into a West Indian-style plantation estate. The main house sits on a rolling green hillside above L’Ansecoy Bay, and the views from the Veranda Restaurant dining room on the porch are breathtaking. The Cotton House is the only full-service hotel on the island, and its traditional Tuesday evening cocktail party draws all the locals. It might be a casual affair, but don’t be surprised to find yourself in a conversation with the CEO of the world’s largest coffee company or a member of British royalty. The scene is surprisingly casual despite the net worth of the island’s residents. RELAX BACK: When you aren’t hobnobbing with the bigwigs, you can unwind in the Cotton House Spa, a two-story stone house with a fitness center, full-service spa, and a boutique where Elizabeth Hurley, a Cotton House regular, sells her exclusive resort wear. After a facial and a body wrap, it’s a short stroll to the beach for lunch at the Beach Cafe. After a quick nap, the ocean is your playground: scuba, snorkel, sail, or windsurf.
|photography by R.P. Washburne|
Britannia Bay, the “downtown” of the island, consists of Treasure Boutique, Sweetie Pie Bakery, Corea’s Food Store, the daily Fish Market, Across Forever Balinese furnishings, and the ultimate Caribbean hangout, Basil’s Bar. Owner Basil Charles is the island’s unofficial mayor, and his bar, cantilevered over the water, is the place to be and be seen. From a seat in the open-air, thatched-roof space, the sun sets over the yardarms of the numerous luxury sailboats and high-dollar yachts docked in the bay. The crowd is a mixed bag of sailors, CEOs, fashion models, and school teachers. Mick jams at Basil’s when he’s in town. In fact, every night is a party fueled by the bartender’s lethal rum punch concoction. The best time to be at Basil’s, or Mustique for that matter, is during the Mustique Blues Festival (www.basilsmustique.com), a two-week musical celebration produced by Charles. This year the festival runs from January 23 through February 6 and features performances by Ronnie Jones, Dana Gillespie, and more.
Be there or be forever square.
|The fine cuisine served at The Cotton House.
photography by R.P. Washburne
How To Get There
There’s a reason Mustique is so private: it’s somewhat difficult to get to. Mustique is reached by air from the United States through Barbados, St. Vincent, Martinique, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, or Trinidad.
What It Costs
Cotton House rates begin at $700. Weekly villa rentals start at $7,000. For more information, contact The Mustique Company, 800-747-9214. www.mustique-island.com.