Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Mustique travel and holiday report – First episode

How much can you say about a small supposedly exclusive island in the Caribbean? An island that is mainly remembered by people old enough to recall Princess Margaret’s hedonistic lifestyle out there or young enough to read about Prince William and Kate’s recent holiday. The island is Mustique and frankly there is a lot to say about it as I am beginning to discover.

As some of you will know I go into quite a lot of detail in my reports so that I can try and provide answers to everyone’s questions. So please skip past the bits that do not interest you and I hope that either way you reach the end more knowledgeable than when you started.

The island is north of Tobago and 160 kms west of Barbados. To get to it you should fly to Barbados and take the 40 minute small aircraft hop. This short flight on the Grenadine Air alliance (SVG)  is so easy  to fix and can be done by your agent, yourself online or via the place in Mustique you are staying. Sometimes the latter can be cheaper. UK flight connection timings are excellent especially if you catch the earlier Virgin flight although BA is a shorter, slightly more risky possibility.

The airport in Mustique is ‘cute’ in every sense of the world. The airport building is made of wood and covered in flags. The people working there can be stern looking but that is because they take pride in the job they do and want to be sure they do it properly. One bit of advice is to keep a close eye on your bags, especially things like carry-on trolley bags that may be loaded in the small aircraft hold for convenience. Ours were not taken off in Mustique and went on to St Vincent. We got it back at 8.00 a.m. next morning but just make sure what goes on also gets off to avoid anxiety.

So who goes to Mustique? Well very few actually except for residents and villa owners which is a shame considering its beauty and what it has to offer. The island is run by The Mustique Company who build and maintain the villas as well as serve the villa owners. The villa owners are a mixture between very rich people, title and land rich but short of cash people and ordinary folk who buy the villas, rent them out and then use them themselves from time to time. The local folk are primarily from St Vincent, neighbouring Bequia and adjoining islands and from that you will know how kind and welcoming they are.
From a tourist perspective you get mainly British and a reasonable share of Americans, Canadians and European. When we were there they were holding a large wedding where a Swiss banker was marrying a British girl and there was about every nationality under the sun staying in the villas and the two hotels. We had a great time talking to them but never felt crowded or out of place. Mustique does that to you if you are prepared to completely relax and chill out. You always get a few visitors who dress up to the nines, plaster on the make-up,  pose around the place and then wonder why so few others are doing it.
Then of course you get the yachters.  There are regular mini flotillas of boats from mega-yachts to small catamarans that cruise around the island and anchor overnight to enjoy the experience of the famous/notorious Basils Bar and take on provisions. The anchorage is very pretty with crystal clear water although it can get a little bumpy if the winds blow strong. More of Basils in a minute.
Who do I think would enjoy Mustique? That is mainly up to you but here are one or two things I like about it:
*The people are so very nice. In the main they are happy to share their island and are welcoming. That is everyone not just the locals.
*There are no beach vendors whatsoever. The beaches are kept clean above the tideline and are some of the best in the world.
*The main hotel (Cotton House) is a world leading what I would call ‘relaxed’ luxury hotel. More on it shortly. The second much smaller hotel (Firefly) is cheaper, still chic and excellent too.
*The place is safe and secure. It is well patrolled and ‘The Company’ knows of everyone who is on the island. It is very comforting that there is very, very little chance of any pilfering or assault. We often did not lock our room or our buggy. Never had or heard of any problem.
*It is small but big enough to spend plenty of time exploring. You can easily get lost if you relax too much but just keep driving and you will end up where you started!
I think Mustique is ideal for expanding their current market which is older couples, honeymooners, families (villas and hotel) and stressed old ex-businessmen like me! I t is also really great for people who usually go to places such as The Maldives. In the Maldives most islands have one resort and little else. In Mustique you get the resort and other places to go. Where are these other places?
They are:
The Cotton House Hotel
The Firefly Hotel
Basil’s and Lisa’s Bars
The Island and its beaches.
In my next blog very shortly I will talk about these and more about how the island works.

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