(Standard.UK) They say this exclusive Caribbean island is perfect for a family holiday. Yes, the Royal Family, says Dan Rookwood
What do the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Tom Ford, Mick Jagger and Tommy Hilfiger all have in common?
They all regularly holiday on the tiny Caribbean island of Mustique. They are also all loaded. These two facts are not unrelated.
Next year will mark 60 years since a flamboyant Scottish aristocrat, the late Colin Tennant, the 3rd Lord Glenconner, first clapped eyes on the uninhabited former sugar plantation in the Grenadines — three miles long and a mile wide — and snapped it up for £45,000. He turned it into a bohemian playground for fellow posh eccentrics including Princess Margaret, to whom he gifted a prime plot in 1960 as a wedding present. In the 1970s Mustique was nicknamed ‘luvvie island’, a hotbed of haughty naughtiness for toffs and their famous pals.
Today it is second (or third, or perhaps 13th) home to some of the world’s wealthiest. But 90 of the island’s 112 properties are available as holiday rentals, fully staffed, from £6,000 to £50,000 a week. They range in style and size from two-bedroom beach cottages perfect for honeymooners to opulent follies that can sleep 30-plus for landmark birthdays. The seven-bed Mandalay, David Bowie’s Balinese-style villa, will set you back £30,000.
The island is operated by The Mustique Company — a kind of Heirbnb — in which each property owner is a shareholder. Mustique is a paparazzi-free zone: all visitors have their credentials checked upon booking. Which is not to say that it is either inaccessible or unaffordable to the likes of you and I.
Two years ago, my wife and I had to cancel our Caribbean babymoon on doctor’s orders. And in the 18 months we have been parents to twin sleep thieves, any ‘holidays’ that we have been on have been nothing of the sort. Heaven knows, we needed a break. Mustique was it. Mustique was everything.
Our three-bedroom villa, Palmyra, had three staff: a butler, a cook and a maid. Plus we hired a nanny for three blissful hours a day. We felt guilty to be so spoilt. ‘This is a different world!’ we kept saying, when each amazing meal was served, when freshly laundered clothes were hung in the wardrobe, when another glass of rosé was brought poolside.
This is not the place to come if you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife. There are just four restaurant-style bars on the island, the liveliest of which is Basil’s Bar, a storied institution currently being refurbished ahead of The Mustique Company’s 50th anniversary celebrations next year.
Since The Cotton House, one of two boutique hotels on the island (the other being the seven-bedroom Firefly), is also run by the company, anyone renting a villa has full use of the facilities, including its outdoor movie screenings and its beach bar. We took our toddlers to the latter for fresh coconuts and a swing in a hammock most afternoons. We say it’s paradise found.
Dan Rookwood was a guest of The Mustique Company. A stay at Palmyra starts from £153 per person per night based on six sharing on a room only basis, including four staff and a Mini Moke (mustique-island.com)
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