Apparently the island’s name originated from its proliferation of mosquitoes. It is a small island – only 3 miles by 1 1/2. No sugar production here – historically farmed for sea cotton. Its small size means Mustique doesn’t get a lot of rain like the bigger islands which attract cloud and condensation.
Much of it is hilly scrub. Its waters are reef-lined. The lee side is pretty calm, the windward packs a wind-driven punch. Fifty years ago, the island didn’t even have a jetty.
Now, it’s the second biggest employer in St Vincent and the Grenadines. – after the government. Purchased by Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner in 1958 for £45,000, villas have cropped up on Mustique ever since. There are currently 120 villas on island. Renting one starts at about $50,000US per week. Buying isn’t even worth thinking about – well, not for me. A villa has an average staff size of 32 people. 32 maids, butlers, chefs etc. That’s all I know.
Plus the infrastructure needed to run everything. There are two water desalination plants on Mustique. Teachers for a primary school housing about 35 children. A vet clinic and stables for horses. 630 mules – open-top jeep buggies- all requiring management and maintenance.
A small village lies by Britannia Bay. Real Disneyland tropical stuff. Perfectly paved roads. Sprinklers for heaven’s sake. Sweetie Pie bakery where we discovered it costs £30 for one large loaf of sourdough, 3 pain du chocolat and two croissants. It’s ok, just eat slowly. A small supermarket and a veg stall. Here a big bag of passion fruit cost two quid – not too bad. We can live on fruit, right? Oh, and the poshest wine shop I’ve seen this side of the Atlantic. We just poked our heads in on that one.
But that’s not all. Oh no. This place aims to be environmentally sustainable too. In two years time, the Mustique Company hopes to ensure 85% of the island is run by renewable resources. The remaining 15% intends to be back-up. The mule jeeps have to all be electric.
How did I geek up on all this info? Our tour guide, Alf. Alf says he was plenty red when he was born, so they took they red out of his name. That’s St Vincent for you. He didn’t volunteer the info, but when I asked, he told it. This was as we took a tour around Mustique.
First of all that mule jeep goes fast.. faster than you’d expect. Secondly, none of the roads have names. It would probably only take a week to learn all the routes. Thirdly, our tour guide kept referring to Mandalay and Clonsilla and Sienna as if they were people.
‘Sienna?’ I heard myself asking. It was hard to concentrate fully at open-vehicle 30mph when we turned a corner and all of the Atlantic Ocean shimmered at us. ‘Who is Sienna?’
‘The house we’re passing now,’ Alf said.
To be honest, you couldn’t see so much. Just the drive/the road and a bit of the roof. For Alf though, each property is a personality. This is that kind of place.