>>>The Island free of paparazzi

The Island free of paparazzi

In 1958, Lord Glenconner paid 45.000 pounds sterling to purchase Mustique. That is what it costs today to spend one week on this private island.
D
on’t be surprised if you run into Prince William of England singing Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ in Basil’s Bar. Or at least, try not to look surprised! It’s normal for Mustique. The British Royal Family, Mick Jagger or Robbie Williams are part of a small group of people you will cross paths with if you visit this island, the most exclusive of the 32 islands that make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines. For the peace of mind of its scarce 500 inhabitants and its visitors, Mustique is an air exclusion zone. Bad news for the paparazzi. But so as not to mislead anyone, this is not an island where the famous live; no, but it is an island where celebrities can, temporarily, forget about their status. Where Tommy Hilfiger swaps shoes and blazer for shorts and T-shirt.
To rent a villa on Mustique costs betweene $5,000 and $75,000 per week.

To the rhythm of the blues

The annual Mustique Blues Festival is held in the third week of January. It’s quite an event for the residents who gather in Basil’s Bar to enjoy local and international artists. Proceeds from the sale of the festival companion CD recordings go to The Basil Charles Educational Foundation.

The island is managed by the Mustique Company, formed by the property owners on the island. From its purchase in 1958, the island has been an exclusive project, shaped in its beginnings by the Swedish architect Arne Hasselqvist and British stage designer Oliver Messel. Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron of Glenconner, whose great-great-grandfather revolutionised the cotton industry in Scotland with the discovery of bleaching powder. The Baron described the island in its original state as “a poorly cared for cemetery”. His intial idea was to set up a cotton plantation, though those plans quickly changed. In 1960 he gave a plot of land to his friend Princess Margaret as a wedding present. She built a residence called Les Jolies Eaux. This sparked the interest of the media and the aristocracy in this Caribbean archipelago. Eventually, the island was divided up into 120 plots and a mixture of High Society, artists and designers bought them up. Their diversity became apparant architecturally in the various styles of châteaux: French, Moroccan riads, or Bali inspired houses.
“On Mustique, anything goes” is the company slogan. They are few regulations on the island, and visitors can do whatever they want to, always provided they don’t disturb the residents or other visitors.
Car-free, transport around the island is by golf buggies.
Today there are 89 private villas and two hotels on the island. The best known is The Cotton House, an old cotton warehouse converted into an hotel. The Cotton House’s Veranda Restaurant serves the island’s finest shell and fresh fish, and where you can try coconut shushi.
The old sugar mill houses a small museum with photographs and plans that tell the history of the island.
Horse riding by the shore, a game of tennis at the club, or a dawn yoga class on the beach are some of the options Mustique offers the visitor.
If the 5.7 square kilometres of the island are too limiting for you, a short boat trip takes you to the neighbouring islands of Bequia and Canouan and the Tobago Cays. Here you can scuba dive with the tortoises and have a picnic on the beach where Jack Sparrow was abandoned by the crew in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
Mustique is where the Dukes of Cambridge go to escape the English cold, or where Paul McCartney celebrated his third honeymoon in Mick Jagger’s house. But it still isn’t an island of the famous. Mustique is a paradox, where princesses, rock stars, and multimillionaires pay a high price for a piece of normality.

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