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We peek into Princess Margaret’s pleasure getaway in Mustique island

Discovering One of the World’s Greatest Hideaways

A tranquil place to rewind, recharge, and relax against a backdrop of breathtaking beauty, the tiny enclave of Mustique possesses a mystery and mystique that is heaven on earth.

The Casa Dalla Valle is a study in Spanish architecture complete with spectacular views of Britannia Bay

The Casa Dalla Valle is a study in Spanish architecture complete with spectacular views of Britannia Bay

Located in the southern Caribbean, the 1,400-private island is part of the Grenadines and Saint Lucia and accessible from Barbados or Saint Lucia (a mere 45-minute ride via the island’s 18- seater aircraft). Mustique was developed in 1958 when the late British aristocrat Collin Tennant (a.ka. Lord Glenconnor) purchased the island with a goal to create a refuge for his friends, Royals, and celebrities who were looking for a place to unwind and escape the paparazzi. Credit Tennant’s friend the late Princess Margaret for putting Mustique on the map when he gifted her a 10-acre plot of land for a wedding gift, and she built the opulent Les JoliesEaux.

Aptly named the Pink House, the gingerbread style house offers chic Caribbean resortwear from local designers

Aptly named the Pink House, the gingerbread style house offers chic Caribbean resortwear from local designers

Today Mustique (French for the word “mosquito” of which there are relatively few) is known as one of the world’s most famous Caribbean hideaways that attracts the rich and famous who come for the island’s natural surroundings as well as its privacy and drone-free policy. Frequent guests include a musical “who’s who” of rock royalty such as Mick Jagger, Bryan Adams and Bryan Ferry (who own homes) along with the late David Bowie, Paul McCartney, and Nick Jonas, actors Jennifer Lopez, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge just to name a few.

Philanthropist and namesake of Basil’s Bar, Basil Charles is a beloved figure on the island

Philanthropist and namesake of Basil’s Bar, Basil Charles is a beloved figure on the island

Life on the island is easy – there are no traffic lights, few cars (shuttle around the island on hybrid golf carts known as “mules”), and a laid-back lifestyle is the main vibe of the day. Swimming with the tortoises, tennis, yoga, snorkelling on Britannia or Endeavor Bays, or just chilling on the beach’s soft sands are a few of the island’s array of activities.

Cotton House’s Great Room is a popular bar that features a weekly cocktail party every Tuesday night

Cotton House’s Great Room is a popular bar that features a weekly cocktail party every Tuesday night

Mustique is not an island where mega-hotel chains dot the beaches. Accommodations range from a stay at the charming 17-room Cotton House (formerly a cotton plantation, hence the name) or one of the fully staffed luxury villas that look like they came from the pages of Architectural Digest. Each villa is unique in its own style, ranging from Colonial and Plantation Caribbean homes to abodes with Balinese, Moroccan, Asian, and Georgian influences, with interiors that run the gamut from serene to flamboyant.

Designed by Oliver Messel, Obsidian villa is one of the best examples of Caribbean charm

Designed by Oliver Messel, Obsidian villa is one of the best examples of Caribbean charm

Enjoy the native cuisine (think crispy goat appetizers or a variety of smoked and grilled seafood) that is a mix of Asian and Caribbean fusion or Mediterranean fare. Cocktails at the Cotton House’s casual yet sophisticated Great Room bar (regulars love the Tuesday night cocktail party) or dinner at the Veranda or Beach Café will not disappoint. A private barbeque picnic lunch on the beach or dinner prepared by the house chefs at the villa is also a popular option.

The Cotton House was converted from an old warehouse to a 17-room hotel. Shown here is the Old Sugar Mill that serves as a museum

The Cotton House was converted from an old warehouse to a 17-room hotel. Shown here is the Old Sugar Mill that serves as a museum

One of the frequented nightspots is the famed Basil’s Bar, a charming seaside cosy watering hole that is owned by the Mustique Company. Watch the sunset over a Mustique Mule, and if lucky, meet the charismatic (now former) owner Basil Charles who has presided over the institution for some 40-plus years. Renovated two years ago by international designer Philippe Starck, it is noted for its sense of place, Caribbean menu, and unique history. Besides its ambience, Basil’s is also the home of the annual Mustique Blues Festival.  Celebrating its 25th year, rhythm and blues musicians fly in from all over the world and spend a week “jamming” and entertaining the guests. As for Basil, he is still a regular fixture (and filled with stories of the island’s past and present), as well as a philanthropist whose Basel Charles Educational Foundation has funded some 2,000 scholarships to St. Vincent and Grenadine students since 1996.

Mustique Island

Mustique Island

While anytime is a good time to visit this little slice of paradise, May and June and the peak holiday season November and December are popular times to book. And expect to hear a variety of accents as Americans, French, Brits, and Canadians return year after year. No matter when you come, one visit to Mustique and you will understand the true allure of the island. Pack your caftan and a good book; it’s the ultimate quintessential escape. ◼

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© This article was first published in Feb-Mar 2020 edition of World Travel Magazine.

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