Holiday like a rock star in Mustique
Saturday, 30 June 2012 14:48 GMT
Movie legends escape there, supermodels suntan there and rock idols hibernate there. So what exactly is so mystical about Mustique? Nick McGrath finds out...
When a bikini-clad Jerry Hall pitches up her deck chair just a flip-flop away from your sun lounger, surely you're either daydreaming or about to be arrested for trespassing in her garden.
Not so if you're holidaying in one of the world's most picturesque private islands. Once second home to Princess Margaret, this tiny piece of Caribbean paradise is now the favoured retreat of the seriously rich and famous. And we're not talking C, B or even A-listers here. Mustique is strictly for the A+ crowd.
Mick Jagger bought his sprawling beachside villa before his marriage split in 1999 and has just lent it to Paul McCartney for his honeymoon. Liz Hurley, Johnny Depp and Kate Moss all now prefer the tranquillity of Mustique to the more developed buzz of nearby Barbados. Tommy Hilfiger is also a homeowner, while millionaire publisher, Felix Dennis, snapped up David Bowie's island sanctuary for £5 million (Dh30 million) in 1995. And the parents of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, are also reportedly house-hunting for an ultra-exclusive property on the beautiful island.
It's from Barbados that you'll swoop over St Vincent and into the heart of the Grenadines. With its single, sweeping runway and quaint bamboo-crowned arrivals ‘terminal', Mustique's only airport is as charming as the rest of the ravishing 1,400-acre island.
More charming still is the welcoming committee, led by Nicholas Simmons, general manager of Mustique's only hotel, complete with refreshing fruit punch and cold hand towels.
From the tarmac, it's a two-minute ride to the ocean-side colonial country club that is the exclusive Cotton House. Owned, like the whole of the island, by the privately run Mustique Company, the residence is set amid 11 acres of palm-tree-scattered gardens overlooking the chalk white beaches and aquamarine waters of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Once an 18th century cotton house and sugar mill, the 1996 restoration transformed a once-ramshackle estate into one of the world's most luxurious hideaways.
Circling the magnificent Great Hall in the centre of the compound are the 20 individually designed guest rooms, lovingly created by the late theatrical designer, Oliver Messel. Sympathetically yet simply furnished in muted shades with lavish details overflowing - there's even a menu with 11 different pillow options - the antique-packed rooms are all breathtaking.
My colonial-style Grenadine suite, with a private verandah, boasted an incredibly comfortable king-sized bed draped with mosquito nets and a view to die for. The luxury extended to the bathroom too with the oversize marble bath, a velvet-soft bathrobe and Contemporel products. And one final touch that caught the eye was my own personal postbox, essential for those all-important dinner invitations.
The food at the Cotton House, like the service, is plentiful, thoughtful and beautifully presented. Daily menus are conjured up by chef de cuisine, Jeremy Touzelet, who creates à la carte offerings using a combination of fresh Caribbean ingredients and specialist produce from all five continents.
After the optional dawn fitness trail, breakfast can be taken on the terrace or in the Great Room. An à la carte lunch menu is served in the beach grill or in the open air bar by the spectacular hammock-ringed pool. Finally, dinner is best appreciated by candle light in the Great Room.
There are plenty of outdoor activities on offer and, if you overdo it on the tennis court or sear a little too much flesh on a windsurfing expedition, perhaps you'll fancy an afternoon of ‘Pure Indulgence' at the spa, including an aromatherapy massage, body wrap and facial
Spectacular though the Cotton House is, Mustique's real beauty in its magnificent beaches and coral-reefed shores. The best way to experience this is on the back of one of the hotel horses. Take the early morning tour before the sun rises too high and you'll circle the north western tip of the island, trotting past the beachside villas - Jerry Hall was actually enjoying an early morning cup of tea as we cantered past - as the waves brush your charge's hooves. Unforgettable. Except for the bruises.
Macaroni Beach on the four-by-two kilometre island's western coast is the most stunning bay. With jet-skis prohibited, you can watch the luminous blue waters gently ferrying the occasional coconut from one end of the ludicrously soft sand to the other in blissful, tropical peace.
But sadly, unless you're very rich or a minor royal, all good things must come to an end. Natural opulence on such a grand scale doesn't come cheap. But it's so worth it.
Exsus (www.exsus.com) offers seven nights at Cotton House, Mustique from £1,965 (Dh11,500) per person based on travel between Oct 22 and Dec 17, 2011. This includes: return flights to Barbados, return charter flights from Barbados to Mustique, seven nights B&B accommodation at Cotton House and airport transfers in Mustique.