A Visit from the Coral Restoration Foundation

02 May 2017 by Nakita Poon Kong, Environmental Manager, Mustique

From January 24th to 1st February a team of five divers from the Coral Restoration Foundation were on the island working in the two offshore coral nurseries, and planting new corals on some of the surounding reefs.  The goals of the trip were to deep clean both nurseries, outplant corals onto the reef, and monitor the corals that have been planted on previous trips.  A total of 561 Acropora palmata corals were transplanted onto four different reef areas.

As we worked our way through the nursery, we removed any blemished corals and outplanted them onto the reef, primarily the reef we call “Cottonhouse Reef” which is along the north shore of Endeavour Bay.  

We’ve learned that these blemished corals are going to struggle and eventually die on the trees, but if they are properly cleaned and attached to the reef (blemished side imbedded in epoxy) most of them will recover and start growing quite nicely.  About half of the corals planted during the trip were these blemished corals.

This trip we began restoration and regeneration on a new reef in front of the fishing village that we’re calling the Fishing Village reef.  In some ways this deeper reef (15-20’) is one of the nicest reefs I’ve seen around the island of Mustique.  There is a field of large, healthy Orbicella annularis heads in the area, with lots of schooling fish living in the coral heads.  The area we chose for restoration is shoreward of this lush area, and is currently, alarmingly, more like a coral graveyard than a coral reef.  

This will be a big project to turn around but we chose this area for many reasons :-

• There is evidence the area used to have an abundance of palmata

• There are still some live palmata in the area (evidence that it can live there)

• Restoring this particular area would provide shoreline protection for the Fishing Village and Basil's

• Restoring this area would increase fish habitat, thereby increasing the local fish population.

The longterm goals of the Coral Restoration programme is to monitor all the corals every six months to a year, and build up a profile of the reefs surrounding Mustique, helping to restore it to its previous state. We are indebted to the team from The Coral Restoration Foundation for their help and guidance and look forward to welcoming back to the island to continue this exciting project.

For further information please do feel free to contact me at nakita@mustique.vc. 

 

A week at White Cedars

06 April 2017 by Cheffoy

A Feast for the Senses

I am officially in paradise. This is the island of Mustique, a little mountainous plop of land where people go to disappear. It is made up of private villas, tucked away into the hillsides,  with two boutique hotels, a beachfront bar, a few shops, and one of the world's top rated beaches (to which we have private access from a very long, steep stairway  path).

I am here with 6 of my best college friends: Colleen, Crissy, Suzanne, Monica, Shari, and Lisa. Colleen's husband won this week in an auction and presented it to her as a gift for all of us to celebrate turning 50. We all flew into Barbados, met up and took a teeny, tiny prop plane on a 50 minute ride to Mustique. We were met at the airport by our driver, who took us up to the villa, White Cedars. 

The house manager's name is Junior. He is also the chef. Junior was born and raised on the island of Bequia which is the next island over. He came to Mustique and worked in a few of the restaurants before he landed the job at White Cedars. He prepares 3 meals a day for us.

When we arrived, we were presented with a beautiful dinner: Pumpkin soup with ginger and tamarind, Grilled Mahi with Lime, Rice Pilaf, Ratatouille, and Key Lime Pie for dessert. So simple. So wonderful..

We went to bed early. It had been a long day, and we all crashed. Poor Colleen came from London and was still on Europe time. No air conditioning, just island breezes...

Woke up Sunday morning and figured I'd take a run. Monica and Lisa decided to join me, even though they weren't really planning on running so far. We set out down the hill, no problem. Then the uphills began. Oh my. Long story short, we ended up walking, gasping up hills, stopping only to take pictures of turtles on the road, and beautiful houses.

We made it back in time for a lovely breakfast of eggs, bacon, and local fruit. I discovered that I really do like papaya. All of the fruit we are eating comes from St. Vincent. It is wonderful. We then made our way down to Macaroni Beach and spent some time in the crystal blue  water.

Junior took us on a field trip to the market to get provisions. The fish market was closed for Sunday, but we did some grocery shopping. 

Lunch. Oh my. How often do you get scuffle presented to you midday? Cheese and spinach scuffle and a wonderful tossed salad with cabbage, greens, tomatoes and avocado, with a grainy mustard vinaigrette. Junior is famous for these scuffles, and I will join the cheers for his culinary  prowess.

Mustique is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I am convinced of that, even though I have seen very little of earth. The flora is so diverse and abundant, the fauna is strange and wonderful.  Every morning at breakfast, little yellow birds come to visit us at the table. Today, we saw a frangipani caterpillar, an enormous fellow, crawling along the decking. Driving around the island is an adventure, because goats wander freely, grazing everywhere. 

And then there are the tortoises, who seem to prefer the road to any other place for walking, sunning, and just generally getting in the way. Lisa has gotten very good at shooing them out of the way. There are some strange long tailed marsupials that run around at night. The water is crystal clear, and you can see fish, sea urchin, and the occasional nasty stinging thing. (Suzanne found that for us.) We have private access to Macaroni Beach, considered the most best beach on the island, and one of the world's most beautiful. It is down a staircase/pathway that is impossibly steep, and has become our daily workout.

We are learning our way around the island by car. There are no street signs or other markings, because the villa owners and visitors are the type who enjoy their privacy,  so we have done some loops and circles, but have enjoyed the adventure of it all. It's hard to really get lost on an island, especially one 3 miles around. We are on the windward (Atlantic) side, so have perpetual breezes, and a bit rougher surf. Today, we ventured to the leeward (Caribbean) side, and plopped down on Endeavour Beach, which is part of the Cotton House, the hotel on the island. They were gracious enough to allow us to use the beach chairs and avail ourselves of the bar, where we had fresh fruit smoothies. 

And we managed to get everyone to try snorkeling. Our original plan had been to spend 1 1/2 hours in  a power boat heading to Tobago Key to snorkel with the turtles, but it was way too rough, so we stayed local. We did not regret it. Just off the dock at Endeavour Bay was a fantastic coral reef teeming with fish. We all spent some time floating around, then had some pina coladas and set off back to White Cedars for lunch.

Our last lunch made by Chef Junior. Sigh...today was a salad with all the usual wonderful stuff, plus some baby asparagus. The main course was grilled fish kebabs, with tuna, mahi, peppers, onions and tomatoes. They were perfect. Full and happy, we are now sitting in the great room digesting. In a few minutes we are heading down one last time to Macaroni Beach to walk the rocks and maybe grab a swim before we leave this place in paradise.

 

 

A Child's View of Mustique

10 November 2015 by by Louis (7 yrs) and Ollie Birkett (10yrs)

Mustique is an island in the Caribbean. To get there we have to fly eight and a half hours to St Lucia and then transfer onto a tiny plane for about half an hour to reach the island. An average day begins by being thrown in the pool by our Dad. After our morning swim, we have breakfast outside - melon, pancakes and bacon. The weather is always boiling hot and the sky is bright blue. Because Mustique is a very small island, we travel around it in mules (like golf buggies). Our Dad takes us to Basil’s Bar for delicious vanilla and strawberry milkshakes. We then drive to Macaroni beach for a barbecue and there we play in the sea. The waves are enormous so we dive under them.

We normally have some friends staying with us and we play tag in the waves with them or search for crabs or fly kites.

Or we might go to the Cotton House, the only hotel on the island, where we sail and sometimes jump off the boat to swim. After that we return to our villa which is called Fisher House. My parents have a nap while we swim in the pool with our two friends. We’re normally pretty tired after that so we watch a movie or do a puzzle in the playroom. For sunset, which is bright and colourful, we go to Firefly, a really beautiful restaurant, for fruit punch. Afterwards, our Dad drives so fast that it feels like a roller coaster and when we return, the dinner table is always ready for us. We eat all together and the kids usually have either pizza or pasta with tomato sauce or fish nuggets and chips. Once we have eaten, we all jump in the pool. Our Dad then becomes a DJ and we all dance. One time our friend was dancing and a spider landed on her and she jumped in fright! At night frogs often appear and we have to be careful not to step on them.

When we go to bed it’s really, really quiet, except for the sound of DJ Dad who carries on way too late!

In search of perfect posture

20 October 2015 by Warren Carl

It’s been a tremendous harvest of learning and growing for me this Autumn.

In the endless pursuit of mental and physical fitness and wellbeing, we all know that nothing will shed and shape more than proper diet and cardio exercise.  However, the ground breaking technology and conditioning regime of Joseph Pilates, much loved by professional dancers and stars of stage and screen, continues to grow in popularity, and so I decided to dedicate my time this Autumn to research and train in this favoured discipline.

Recently in London, I undertook the task of finding a more contemporary approach to the original exercise method, and after talking with many practitioners and teachers I came across a technique from Canada called Stott Pilates, founded and developed by Lindsay and Moira Merrithew, who along with a team of physical therapists, sports medicine and fitness professionals have spent over twenty years refining the acclaimed STOTT PILATES method of exercise.  Enroling at their new centre in King’s Cross, I spent two intense weeks opening my eyes and thighs to the intricate learning of the Stott Pilates system, and I look forward to sharing the benefits with you this coming season.

Anyone who has practiced yoga with me will have noticed while the essence of the yoga postures are there, they have been reshaped by two similar physiotherapists in Australia to accommodate the exact same directive as the Stott system. Then sprinkled with ancient wisdom from a modern yoga guru of our time Deepak Chopra.

Yoga addresses the body yes, but hopefully leads you to a deeper level of self-understanding and fulfillment, encompassing Buddhist values, noble qualities of love, purpose, wisdom, and playfulness…in service to the whole.

In November, you’ll see me with eyes closed for seven days study with my teacher, Deepak Chopra, at the Chopra Centre in San Diego.

And in December I bring it all to you on Mustique.

Group or individual classes are available and can be booked in advance by contacting me at yogafitness@cottonhouse.net

Merry Christmas. See you at Lagoon 5 feeling alive.

Namaste,

Warren

 

Mustique chic hits NY runway

21 September 2015 by Daily Telegraph

'Sun-kissed Hilfiger offers Caribbean chic at Spring/Summer 2016 show".....

Mustique, Tommy-style, saw guests taking their folding wooden seats on a sand-strewn floor, ogling the giant swimming pool circled by a boardwalk catwalk as they went, and taking in the palm trees, a Bob Marley soundtrack and a Tiki bar (furnished with a chess set, for models seeking diversion). 

Sun-kissed model after sun-kissed model, streaming down the planks with salty hair and wearing looks that Hilfiger described as “a fun tribute to the islands where I holiday every year: Mustique, where we have a house; St Bart’s; Jamaica”.

 Tropical print pyjama suits, stripy leather mini dresses, crochet string tops worn with faded baggy jeans, and patchwork circle skirts jostled for attention with updated Hilfiger preppy classics: a cricket jumper featured crochet embroidery, an Oxford shirt-dress was trimmed with flowers and lace.

The hits were easy to spot, and in some cases, anticipated: a pink silk-blend bomber embroidered with “Mustique” and embellished with hibiscus flowers was available to purchase immediately after the show on Hilfiger’s website. Equally covetable were the billowing maxi dresses that closed the show

As the models stormed the water in the finale, tossing their beachy manes, looking for all the world like they were on a particularly Instagram-friendly holiday, the audience tried to bury their envy. 

What with New York’s broiling temperatures this week, there must have been more than one journalist present who fancied a dip.

Mustique's Coral Nursery is Thriving

12 June 2015 by Coral Restoration Foundation Volunteer

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Mustique "coral nursery" in front of the Cotton House is doing really well.

After what seemed like a very unlikely start of little cut up stumps, our baby corals have all sprouted new arms and legs and will be ready for planting out in November/December. The photo below shows baby staghorn corals, hanging on underwater PVC ‘trees'. We are also propagating elkhorn and fire coral as well. 

If you are on the island, I encourage you to visit the nursery! It’s an easy swim from the Cotton House there and back with a mask and snorkel.

Much thanks and respect to our dive shop lads and Dianne Wilson, who go out there every few weeks to clean the trees of algae.

Coral cleaning volunteers are welcome, do please contact the Dive Shop for further information.

An Island of Surprises

05 May 2015 by Chris Caldicott

We loved Mustique, who wouldn’t, what’s not to like. Despite our high expectations all being met there were some nice surprises too, the best of them being the fabulous walking trails. There are several well maintained treks, giving access to some of the most remote parts of the island. We walked in the cool of the dawn, along paths that skirted the windswept rocky coastline and wound their way through the dappled shade of low lying woods shaped by the elements. We often passed red footed tortoises crossing the paths, we found dramatic headlands scattered with rare Turk’s cap cacti and miles of untamed wild Caribbean beach, what a treat.

The highlights were climbing to the top of South Point surrounded by crashing waves, where the view of the island is spectacular.....a rustic bench has been thoughtfully constructed in the trees at the optimum viewpoint where it is most appreciated. And Gelliceaux Bay, only accessible by foot it feels like a hidden paradise, a deep crescent of white sand and crystal-clear sky blue waters, with little shade to encourage sunbathers to stick around, solitude is almost guaranteed. Where ever we went the best bit was returning the villa to find our cook had a sensational cooked breakfast ready to serve. 

Pioneering Coral Restoration

30 March 2015 by Tripp Funderburk

The team from Coral Restoration Foundation International (CRFI) (www.coralrestorationintl.org) has returned to the UK and USA, following a productive, challenging and rewarding week installing a coral nursery in Mustique. While we were sad to leave the island paradise and all of our newly-made friends, we were glad the nursery installation was successful and we were able to share our passion for restoring coral reefs with wonderful people in Mustique.

With the able assistance of Brian Richards and his Mustique Watersports team, we installed 29 coral nursery "trees" which were tethered to the sea floor and suspended by subsurface floats.  We collected samples from 16 genotypes of elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), 7 genotypes of blade fire coral (Millepora complanata), and 4 genotypes of staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) to serve as the broodstock for the nursery. The collected corals were fragmented and more than 1200 elkhorn corals and nearly 400 each of staghorn and blade fire coral were hung in the new coral nursery trees. 

The three species of coral selected for Mustique's nursery are all fast-growing "reef-builders," especially the majestic elkhorn, which has thick and sturdy antler-like branches that provide fish habitat and protection from storm-generated waves.   Elkhorn was formerly the dominant species in shallow water throughout the Caribbean and we hope we can help restore its vital ecosystem functions on Mustique's reefs.  Blade fire coral forms sturdy, interlocking honeycomb structures that allow it to thrive on the tops of reefs where the waves break.  Staghorn exhibits the fastest growth of all Caribbean corals, with branches increasing in length by 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) per year. We believe that preserving the genetic diversity of these key coral species and planting the most disease and heat resistant nursery-raised corals back on the reef will help rejuvenate Mustique's coral reefs.

CRFI is planning a return visit to Mustique in six to nine months to monitor the corals for growth and overall health, and to begin planting some of the nursery-raised corals onto selected reef restoration sites around Mustique.  The remaining corals will be pruned to re-stock the trees for future coral planting efforts. At the end of two years the nursery will be producing over 2,000 large corals per year that can be out-planted onto Mustique's reefs.  While we are away, the Mustique Watersports team will periodically clean the coral trees to remove algae growth and protect the baby corals from predators such as snails and fireworms. 

The CRFI team was glad to see so much interest and support from the Mustique community as we worked to install the coral nursery.  We were also pleased to see the large attendance at our Saturday presentation where Ken Nedimyer from CRFI and Owen Day from our partner, CARIBSAVE (www.caribbean.intasave.org), outlined the challenges facing Caribbean coral reefs and the efforts we are making to restore endangered corals. The engaged audience made it clear that Mustique has many passionate conservationists committed to marine conservation.  We hope that the coral nursery and reef restoration program will serve as a model for other Caribbean islands.

CRFI and CARIBSAVE have worked together to install new coral nurseries in Mustique and Jamaica in the past month.  We plan to develop a large coral restoration and MPA programme for communities throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines.   The CRFI-CARIBSAVE partnership has support from UKAID and other donors, and we are now seeking support from the private sector to develop specific public-private partnerships for projects in each island in SVG (St Vincent, Mustique, Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, PSV, Palm Island, Union).  Healthy coral reefs are not just beautiful, they are critically important to the economic sustainability of these island communities, providing jobs, food and coastal protection from sea level rise and storm surges.

CRFI and CARIBSAVE are grateful for the unwavering support from Stuart Ward, Mustique Operations Director; Brian Richards and his Watersports team; the Mustique Island Conservation Committee and its Chairman, Bryan Adams; and the numerous Mustique Company staff, including Dianne, Jan, Raven, Warren & Corranie, who provided for our every need and made our trip a true pleasure. We look forward to continuing a strong partnership to maintain and grow our coral restoration project together.

We are hosting a large fund-raising gala in July in London at Quaglino's (http://www.quaglinos-restaurant.co.uk/) for 250 invited guests. Buzz Aldrin (http://buzzaldrin.com/) is our guest speaker - Buzz recently visited one of our coral nurseries and is now totally inspired. We would be delighted to hear from anyone wishing to attend our gala and help with sponsorship. For further details, please contact Pete Raines, CRFI Executive Director, at rainespeter@gmail.com.

Saving Mustique's Coral

19 March 2015 by Tripp Funderburk

A team from The Coral Restoration Foundation International  (CRFI) arrived on Mustique on March 8th, 2015, to commence a pioneering week-long coral restoration project at the invitation of the Mustique Environmental Committee.

CRFI (www.coralrestorationintl.org) is a non-profit organization that helps local communities restore their endangered coral reefs. We implemented our first projects in Bonaire and Colombia in 2012, and the coral nurseries that we built are now producing thousands of corals that are being out-planted onto their respective reefs. RFI works in close partnership with CARIBSAVE (http://caribbean.intasave.org/) and together we have recently installed a coral nursery in Jamaica.

Sadly, like most of the Caribbean, Mustique's coral reefs have suffered severe declines in recent decades.  The important (and now endangered) reef-building Staghorn and Elkhorn corals have declined by more than 95% throughout the Caribbean.  With ever increasing impacts from human activities, the prospects for a natural recovery for these vital fast-growing corals are slim without active coral restoration initiatives. CRFI seeks to preserve the remaining genetic diversity of threatened corals and strategically outplant the hardiest nursery-raised corals back on the reef to promote genetic diversity during spawning events.

Coral samples from several different staghorn, elkhorn and blade fire coral populations will be collected from the reefs surrounding Mustique.   These broodstock corals will be fragmented and hung on coral nursery "trees" where they will grow for six to nine months before they are ready to be outplanted back onto Mustique's reefs.  Corals of “opportunity” (loose branches and fragments) and “corals at risk” (live corals at the ends of dead branches) will be the preferred methods of obtaining colonies for the nurseries.   Each tree will contain a unique genotype of staghorn, elkhorn and blade fire coral and we will monitor the growth and health of each genotype so we can identify the "winners" and plant more of the heat and disease resistant corals back on the reef.

We are excited that Mustique is responding to the challenges facing coral reefs by seeking to work with CRFI to rebuild the Staghorn and Elkhorn populations around the island.  These fast-growing branching corals provide the three-dimensional reef structure vital for fish and other marine life habitat, as well as protection from storm-generated waves. The CRFI team will train the Mustique Watersports staff and any interested residents or visitors in all facets of coral nursery construction and maintenance.  We hope that our efforts will lead to restored corals reefs and increased public awareness and support for coral protection and restoration in Mustique.

The CRFI team is led by Ken Nedimyer, a marine biologist that founded the Coral Restoration Foundation USA and the CRFI, and Peter Raines, CRFI's Executive Director.  Ken's pioneering work in coral restoration has resulted in him being named a 2012 CNN Hero for “Defending the Planet”, a Disney Conservation Hero in 2014, and SCUBA Diving Magazine’s “Sea Hero of the Year” in 2014.  Peter is an expert on international volunteer-based (‘Citizen-Scientist’) reef conservation programs, and in 2003, Pete was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty The Queen for ‘Services to the Protection of Biodiversity’. Peter is the recipient of numerous other awards for his work in marine conservation.


Ken and Peter are joined by a team of committed volunteers that also serve on the Board of Directors of CRF USA. Patti and David Gross are long-time Florida Keys residents and community leaders that provide a wealth of diving and boating experience.  Denise Nedimyer is Ken's wife and partner in growing the Coral Restoration Foundation International from the beginning.  Tripp Funderburk is a recovering DC lobbyist and committed coral restoration enthusiast.
Today is Wednesday and the CRFI team is busy identifying and gathering fragments of corals to serve as our broodstock for the nursery, assembling the nursery “trees”, pounding in the duck-bill moorings (thank goodness for the powerful assistance of Brian from the Watersports team), and hanging the nursery trees.  To date we have gathered 8 genotypes of elkhorn coral, installed 17 coral trees and begun hanging coral fragments onto them.  

On Saturday at 6.30pm the team will be presenting an overview of the week's activities to Mustique's residents and guests at a drinks reception at the Community Centre. All welcome!

Are we nearly there yet?

15 January 2015 by Ottie Wyatt

So.. we have three children under 4 and frankly the thought of a holiday anywhere further than a 10 – 12 minute walk away from our front door seemed a far off dream.. recently, however we bit the bullet and had the most blissful week imaginable in the tropical paradise of Mustique…

My husband and I (braving it alone) stocked up with sleep inducing drugs for the children and with significant trepidation boarded the flight… it was a dream… an aeroplane has the same effect as a car, they were asleep within minutes and stayed that way almost throughout, my first peace and quiet in months.

We arrived in paradise, and as we cleared ‘customs’ (a palm covered shack) in Mustique, our youngest gurgling happily in a Medised haze and the others immediately transfixed by a turtle ambling quietly past, our exhaustion seemed to melt away…the mules were an instant hit and we settled into our wonderful duplex room within what seemed like minutes.  Cots were already in place, high chairs and child friendly tropical juices were chilled.

We stayed at The Cotton House, it is perfect… not so smarty pants that you are constantly ‘sshh’ing’ the children and yet spoiling enough to feel like a real escape. 

The Beach Café where the children gorged on pancakes, exotic fruits and milkshakes (they even whizzed up some wonderful Caribbean ‘mush’ for our youngest) whilst we tantalised our newly refreshed taste buds with tuna sashimi and a glass of rosé, was our lunchtime staple. The eldest two collected shells and paddled in the shallows of Endeavour Bay whilst our youngest gazed at the ocean from a fluffy beach towel in the shade of a palm tree. 

We explored and dozed, we swam and played tennis, we hunted for bugs and played ‘beach cluedo’.  On a couple of evenings my husband and I booked a baby sitter (a charming lady who has worked at the hotel for 15 years) … one night we dressed up and spoilt ourselves at The Verandah Restaurant within the Cotton House the other night we kicked off our shoes and drank far too much rum punch at the legendary Basils Bar. 

Mostly though, we whiled away the days, the children were the happiest and calmest I have ever seen them, island life suited them, The Cotton House made them feel welcome and us feel pampered. 

The long and short of it...  if you are considering an escape with really tiny children, go for it, be brave, don’t fall back on Portugal or Cornwall make it memorable and make it count… we did and it was magical! 

Christmas is a Cracker on the Beach !

24 December 2014 by Tristan Welch

I’ve always loved a roast goose for Christmas - there’s something quite Dickensian about it, the way the meal conjures fond memories of a Christmas Carol. Last year, sadly, our goose missed the Christmas table and arrived on the 28th of December (that’s what you call “on Caribbean time”). It was nothing that a bronzed roasted turkey and a beautiful roasted four rib of beef couldn’t replace, but still for me it’s just not Christmas without a goose.

Last Christmas my family had just made the big move to Mustique, and with getting the us and our young sons adjusted into this new life, with a new house, and schools, and jobs, we lost track of time in the holiday season. So when the goose was late and Christmas poised to pass us by just as any other day, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to postpone the festivities for a month or two until we were fully settled and ready to properly celebrate.

As it turns out, the 25th of February 2014 turned out to be one of the best Christmases we have ever had! Spent with family and friends on Mustique’s lovely Lagoon Beach, Christmas dinner somehow tasted even better with sand between our toes and the sound of gentle waves lapping at the shore line. There was something so special and fun in the contrast of a grand holiday dinner in the beautifully relaxed environment of a pristine Caribbean beach.    

With this setting so far removed from the cold wintry Christmases of my youth, it felt only appropriate to add a few twists to the menu as well. Instead of the traditional smoked salmon, we started with fresh Tuna Carpaccio with lemongrass and ginger, a fine replacement and a dish that has now become one of our signatures at the Beach Café. Our fantastic holiday on the beach also led to the discovery of another new favorite - Christmas Pudding Ice Cream. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case, it’s certainly true. In need of a way to make our pudding last until our postponed celebration in February, inspiration struck when I was making fresh ice cream for the restaurant. The rest, as they say, was history. In the end though, I have to say the star of the day was the long-awaited goose, slow-roasted with honey and thyme… delicious!

This year our goose is traveling with a first class ticket and I hope to give him a ride home from the airport today. To give the meal a local touch I’ll be knocking on the door of Stuart Ward (Director of Operations and Environment for the island) and his wife Debora Gould, the local bee keeper, for some fresh Mustique honey. After some time spent picking tikki thyme from Mustique’s fantastic permaculture garden, we’ll have all we need for the perfect Christmas goose.

Here is my recipe for the perfect centerpiece of a Caribbean Christmas - Slow-Roasted Goose with Local Honey and Thyme. It takes a while to prepare and you’ll need a hair dryer but its well worth it.

  Slow-Roasted Goose with Local Honey and Thyme*

*pristine Caribbean beach not included

Serves 6 people

Ingredients

·         1 fat goose (about 8-9 pounds)

·         1 13 oz. jar of honey

·         ½ bunch fresh thyme (we use local tikki thyme)

·         sea salt

·         1 bay leaf

·         6 large potatoes

Preheat the oven to 260 degrees.

Score along the skin of the goose breast 12-15 times with a small sharp knife, just cutting into the skin itself and not the meat.

Place the goose on a wire rack above the sink and pour over a kettle of boiling salted water; dry the goose with kitchen paper. At this point you can air dry the goose in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or use a hair dryer with a cold air setting to dry the outside skin - this will take 30-40 min but it really makes the difference when crisping up the skin while cooking.

Once dry, place the goose on the wire rack over a large roasting tray and massage the bird with honey , salt, and thyme, making sure it is completely covered. Pour a little water into the bottom of the pan and place the goose in the oven.

Leave the goose to slow-roast for up to 4 hours, basting (pouring the rich cooking juices over the goose) every 15-20 minutes. Note: the basting is VERY important. After about an hour and a half of roasting, pour off the excess fat from the tray and keep to one side for the potatoes.

Wash, peel, and dry the potatoes and dice them into 1 inch chunks. Put the potatoes in an oven-safe tray with a lid (foil works just as well) with the fat reserved from the goose; season with salt, a little thyme, and a bay leaf before adding the lid and placing into the oven to bake along with the goose. Stir the potatoes occasionally - they will turn a beautiful dark golden brown as soak up all the delicious juices while cooking.

Once the goose is fully cooked, take the bird out of the oven and let rest for 20 minutes in a warm place in the kitchen. Be sure to reserve the juices in the oven tray to use as a rich sauce.

Now it’s time to feast with friends and family. Happy Christmas!

Thanksgiving, Island Style

27 November 2014 by Tristan Welch

I'm from the UK so Thanksgiving isn't a holiday I grew up celebrating, but with so many Americans coming to Mustique, it has become a tradition my family and I look forward to each year. A lot of guests stay in some of the incredible villas on the island and work with private chefs to prepare special meals for their family, but we also get big crowds at The Cotton House - we're all like one big family. It seems everyone has an idea of the way Thanksgiving dinner should taste, but whether you're on the beach in Mustique or holed away in a snow-covered cabin, here are some tricks to add a little island flavor and make your dinner a raving success!

I've found that the best way to cook a ten pound turkey is in a cold oven. Using this technique will take a minimum of four hours but its well worth the wait... we're on Caribbean time, man! The aroma coming from the oven is sensational, with the island spices, limes, and coconut oil creating a aromatic delight thats a great twist on the boring, traditional turkey.

To cook your turkey, season with salt pepper per usual, but here on Mustique I like to add a little local twist with some spices from the islands, including cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Then cut three large limes or lemons in half and place inside the turkey. Finally, pour coconut oil over the entire bird. Turn the oven to 240 F and immediately place the turkey in, baking for one hour.

To keep the turkey moist and help turn the skin a beautiful golden brown when baking, the key is to baste religiously! You can do this by pouring the cooking juices that have collected in the bottom of the roasting pan back over the turkey. I recommend basting at least three times per hour. It will truly make a difference you can taste. 

After the first hour, turn up the oven to 260 F for an hour, then 300 F for an hour, then up to 320 F for the last hour and a half.

Always take care to check that the turkey is cooked properly - with this recipe it not a question of how long your turkey is in the oven, but at what temperature - and there are a few ways you can test to ensure the bird is cooking through. You can push a small knife or fork into the deepest part of the meat, and if the juices are clear then its cooked but if there is any trace of pink, pop it back into the oven for another 20 minutes and then check again.. You can also use a temperature probe or meat thermometer - anything between 172 - 194 F will be cooked nicely..

When you remove the turkey from the oven it should be a perfect golden brown with a deliciously rich flavor that will add some island flair to your table, no matter where you're celebrating. Happy Thanksgiving!

Why should I get married?

09 October 2014 by Lottie Fraser

As the glorious English Summer’s countryside started to stir the morning after our ‘big day’, I still didn’t know where we were going on honeymoon… Italy? (I had dropped subtle hints), Mexico?(my husband had lived there briefly as a child and I’d never been), Africa?(he had done safari and I hadn’t), Far East or the Maldives? (probably not as I spent a lot of time there for work)…  

At Heathrow he led me towards the Club Class desk (first clutch of brownie points banked!), whereupon I discovered we were going to Mustique…. ‘The land of rock stars and royalty’, ‘playground to the rich and famous’… not a bit of it (well maybe a very little bit!)... more obviously, it was pretty much heaven on earth…

An almost laughably idyllic palm covered ‘shack’ served as an airport for this blissful little island, and our mule (a souped up golf buggy, which was ours for the week) awaited us.  A gloriously haphazard set of directions were proffered, ‘go to the end of the airstrip, turn right by the pile of stones with two palm trees, take the left hand path past the lily pond and head towards the colonial style building with the veranda’; and the warm breeze buffeted away any vestiges of jet lag as we sped towards The Cotton House Hotel, our home for the next two weeks. 

Beaming smiles, a surprisingly punchy, rum punch in the magnificent Great Room and we were shown to The Residence, the hotel’s sublime presidential suite… all bets were off, months of stress, excitement, decision making and preparation could be put behind us… we had done it, we were married and we were here; in our own whitewashed, palm surrounded, Caribbean facing nirvana ready to start our new lives together… 

We spent two days decompressing, remembering little snatches of the wedding, sleeping, reading, eating and barely stepping foot out of the sanctuary of our suite, safe in the knowledge that two long blissful weeks stretched out ahead of us. 

Renewed and ready to take on the world, our first foray was to go for a refresher dive on the house reef… Lombok, The Red Sea…the bar was set pretty high but as always on Mustique, nothing disappointed. A kaleidoscope of marine life greeted us, all the old favourites... Nemo, eat your heart out… and some new surprises too.

Ravenously hungry and re-surfacing conveniently close to the (new and swishy) Beach Café, I threw on a sarong and gorged on tuna ceviche (subtle Asian flavours, scattered with toasted coconut slithers – impossibly delicious) whilst my husband devoured an entire lobster in five minutes flat, all washed down with copious amounts of the sommeliers choice of white burgundy – perfect! 

Another Mustique day that burns bright is when we paddle boarded from Pasture Bay to Hollywood blockbuster-worthy Macaroni Beach… it was an hour or so of thigh burning exercise and as we flopped onto the beach, we were greeted by a hint of barbeque on the breeze… our own fresh grilled prawns being prepared, as it transpired, by a fully uniformed chef, just for us… just because, on Mustique anything is possible… what heaven! 

…the sparkly days and nights on Mustique were magical, I could go on forever, but won’t, partly because I’ve run out of words and partly because I don’t want to spoil the surprises that await you.. We are now part of the Mustique family, I hope that in the future we will be able to bring our children to experience all that we did, but in the meantime I urge you to take heed of what must be the best reason in the world to get married… and that is to have a honeymoon on Mustique…

Mustique where Mother Nature reveals her joy

15 September 2014 by Denise Leicester

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” has never resonated with me so profoundly as on my recent trip to Mustique.  I set off expecting to find a sophisticated, manicured island – but what I found completely blew me away.

To me, Mustique is like a Bohemian Princess.  It’s a truly magical place, so beautiful that it’s as if Mother Nature decided to use the island to show her joy to the world. A place where turtles have been coming to lay their eggs for thousands of years; where wild tortoises roam free; where some of the most sacred and healing trees of life like the Baobab and Moringa thrive; where two oceans meet to create so much ozone that fatigue melts away from mind and body in mere minutes; where bees produce the sweetest and most fragrant honey; where therapists have the softest healing hands and sweetest voices; where the full moon rises so peacefully over the sea; and where the beautiful white beaches and turquoise waters really are just the start of the story

I fell in love with the island – along with the people that I met there. It’s also my idea of luxury heaven, where everything is exquisitely subtle, refreshingly understated and wonderfully private.   I stayed at The Cotton House – the oldest building on the island, a colonial style former cotton warehouse that has been transformed into a world-class boutique hotel.  It’s warm, relaxed and traditional, and I just loved meditating on my experience at the Beach Café, morning fresh smoothie in hand and the energising ocean lapping in front of me. 

On a very personal level, I recently lost my father and have found myself feeling much more vulnerable and sensitive. I experienced the island truly embracing me with its gentle healing energy, and felt its big heart deeply restoring me.  There are very few places on this earth that have touched me like this and I’m so excited about my upcoming retreat there [10 –17th November 2014]:  a week of outdoor adventures, inner journeys, soulful food, rejuvenating open-air treatments and wellbeing rituals.  Mustique is a place where yoga and healing flow so effortlessly, so perfectly in harmony with our healing ila rituals. Combined with the divinely prepared organic vegan and raw foods of super chef Amy Oliver, it’s going to be pure alchemy for the mind, body and soul.

Ode to a Coconut

25 August 2014 by Tristan Welch

It’s incredible how a single ingredient can change a chef’s perspective. For me it was the coconut.

Though I’ve spent years in kitchens across the UK, it wasn’t until I moved to Mustique that I discovered the wonders of this fascinating little fruit. Mustique is lush with coconut trees and I quickly discovered that the coconut is an integral part of island life. I find it endlessly inspiring because nearly every part can be used to add complexity and a spectacular tropical flavour to any dish.

Coconut Water – I think of this as Mother Nature’s energy drink. I have a glass every morning… maybe more than one if I was drinking the night before. It’s also great in a ceviche!

Toasted Coconut – completely addictive, toasted coconut bits are a favourite of guests at the restaurant as well as my little ones at home. The perfect mix of smoky and sweet, toasted coconut is the perfect island treat. 

Coconut Oil – Cooking with coconut oil is a sensory experience. Throw on the some steel drum music, put a splash in a pan and you’re in the Caribbean. The aroma fills you with a feeling of the islands, even in a New York City apartment.

Coconut Jelly – One of the most versatile parts of the coconut, the jelly is a perfect snack for babies but also adds a wonderful savoury element to a curry. It’s also a great addition to salads and carpaccios.

Coconut Milk –The first pressing of coconut milk is like first pressing of olive oil and enhances both savoury and sweet dishes with its rich flavor.

Coconut Husk – I was thrilled when I discovered that the husk (the outer covering that protects young coconuts from the sun while they are growing) is absolutely brilliant for smoking fish, because once coconuts are ripe the husks dry and fall off, making a perfect little boat. I like to start with a whole fish, such as a small snapper, and season it with an aromatic green jerk seasoning and a little coconut oil. Then, I place the fish in the coconut boat and bake it our stone pizza oven. The boat burns a little, which smokes the fish naturally and gives it a beautifully rich flavour that is truly delicious. I also like to use coconut leaves as a serving dish.

The most sensational thing about being on Mustique is that every day is a culinary adventure. Living on this island has given me the opportunity to explore my creativity as a chef – the most sensational thing is not knowing what the menu will be from one day to the next. Whenever I need inspiration, I just look to the beach. And as long as I have a coconut, fresh limes, and salt I know a delicious meal isn’t far off.

 

Sustainability on Mustique

20 July 2014 by Denise Leicester

Denise Connects with Stuart Ward, Mustique’s Passionate Conservationist 

Stuart

I’m privileged in my line of work to encounter all sorts of exceptional people in all sorts of exceptional locations. Mustique – a lush 1,400-acre private island hideaway in the Caribbean – is one such place, and its sustainability guru and Operations Director, Stuart Ward, one such person! I’m delighted to be working with Mustique and recently had the chance to catch up with Stuart about exactly what makes him and the island tick … 

Q) What drew you to Mustique? 

A) Besides a set of coincidences and mutual acquaintances it was the climate, the air is good, the contrast of the Caribbean and Atlantic sides. An African scene with smiling faces and Baobab trees reminded me of my youth growing up in Africa.

Q) What is a typical day for you at Mustique?

A) Up early with the dawn, head to the office, plug in with all the emails, etc. head out to inspect works, water, Eco Centre, conservation, depot, Cotton House and villas that may need attention or advice on issues, most days I visit a part of the island in more detail to observe what is going on with the flora fauna and so forth. Department meetings or HR issues after lunch followed by research into better-improved ways to carry out the operations from training to practical work. More paperwork, signatures, departmental documentation – but at the end the day a walk or swim!

Q) What are your true passions in life and what inspires you?

A) My true passions besides my family are nature – as it simply amazes me. I see each moment as unique regardless of how small, from the reflection in an iguana’s eye to the sunset. The fact that I can witness leatherback turtles laying eggs on a beach and have very little visual pollution to obscure the night sky makes it special. Art, design, architecture and permaculture inspire me – creating simple lifestyles by understanding biomimcry is the challenge and the opportunity.

Q) What is the future of sustainability in resorts?

A) Resorts will have to totally rethink their carbon footprint – from daily operations to embedded carbon from a cradle to grave approach. The supply chain will need to be examined to determine where goods, materials, or produce are being made, built, used, and produced. The ethics and good environmental practices of the resort and its partners will need to be transparent. Natural goods will become more prevalent in the choices that customers and clients will make. Guests will measure and gauge their experience not just on hospitality and service but on the total holistic approach including the environment, transportation, food, people, care, share, charity, and general wellbeing of everyone or thing connected to the experience.  

Q) What makes Mustique sustainable and what are your plans to develop this in the future?

A) Mustique is at the transition stage of embracing sustainability. To embrace it and for sustainability to achieve acceptance Mustique has embarked upon several areas of concern. We have implemented stricter recycling practices and the results are good, with all glass, paper, tins, aluminium and white goods all being recycled. Garden waste is shredded and soon will be even more refined with the addition of mobile chippers. Food waste and plastics are a challenge and from August we will be able to deal with food waste fully as we receive a food composter rocket. Plastic remains an issue but to combat this we have stopped supplying plastic bags and invested in biodegradable bags for all garden services, rubbish, kitchen rolls, shrink wrap and sandwich bags.

The product range in the central supplies depot is constantly being vetted to eliminate non-environmentally friendly products. This is an ongoing change. Building materials need to be sourced responsibly as well e.g. FSC-sourced timbers or sustainable forestry practices, low VOC paints, non-harmful insecticides etc. 

We have embarked on an “introduction to permaculture” course for 75 plus people and this is introducing sustainable gardens, food production, water harvesting, composting, plant selection and natural pesticide control measures. Planting targets of trees and shrubs all across the island is an ongoing activity. 

This year we will install solar hot water heating for the company and 200KW of solar electric photovoltaic panels. 

Transportation being a common issue and solar powered electric vehicles will need to be embraced over the coming years.

Lastly we have begun the benchmarking of the carbon for the total island; this will be used to measure us on our reduction of GHG emissions going forward. 

The gradual shift towards a hybrid energy source is the goal and by 2020 Mustique should aim to be 60% off diesel generation and fossil fuel dependency. Changing people’s habits is the challenge!

Q) What are your favourite destinations to visit?

A) My wife and I climb or hike a mountain every year; we choose more remote locations such as Borneo and Sri Lanka. This year is Kilimanjaro! 

Botswana Okavango, Zambezi River, Namibia, Peru, Northern Thailand, Laos, Spain and the British countryside are also favourite destinations.

Q) Describe Mustique in five words

A) Africa meets Caribbean turquoise sea.

I’ll be visiting Mustique soon – keep an eye out for photos of and insights into this unique destination in a future blog post. I’ll also be running a six-day retreat there from 10-17 November 2014, featuring outdoor adventures, inner journeys, soulful food, rejuvenating open-air treatments and mind-body-spirit rituals – all inspired by this natural island paradise. You can come on your own, as a couple or in a group, and choose to stay in a boutique suite at The Cotton House or in one of The Villa Collection’s beautiful sea-facing residences. The whole idea is to tailor the entire experience to your exact needs and I’m really very excited about it. 

For more information in the UK & Europe – Pippa Ona +44 (0)207 201 6831; pippa@mustique.vc and North & South America – Victoria Hawbecker 0855 261 1316; victoria@mustique.vc.

Love and blessings,
Denise
x

Can fish be too fresh?

15 June 2014 by Tristan Welch

I’ve been a chef for close to 20 years in kitchens across the UK from London to Scotland and back again. Over the past two decades I have been fortunate to work with and learn from some of the most amazing chefs, from Gary Rhodes to Michel Roux Jr. to Gordon Ramsay.

Earlier this year I moved my family from Europe to the Caribbean to accept a job on the island of Mustique as Executive Chef for The Cotton House. I’m overseeing the hotel’s two restaurants, The Verandah and The Beach Café, and it’s like no job I’ve ever had before. You have to be creative because the most sensational thing is you don’t know what the menu will be from day to day – why import when you have a Caribbean garden at the end of the jetty down the beach?

It’s a whole new approach and I feel like I’m on a culinary adventure, because in the Caribbean you’ve just got to go with the flow. We always have Carpaccio, Tartar, and Sashimi on the menu, but one day it’s Marlin and the next it’s Tuna. Sometimes it’s the sea urchins we picked up while snorkelling - every day offers something new to discover.

After a few months here on Mustique one thing I have learned is that fish can, in fact, be too fresh. 

There is a window of two to three hours when a fresh catch is an exemplary piece of fish, perfect for grilling or serving raw. Then there’s a twenty four hour period where your fish turns to shoe leather. Rigor mortis sets in and the meat becomes extremely tough and you can feel it tensing under your knife. It can’t be served raw and don’t even think of cooking it – it’s simply too tough to use. 

The great thing is that even after a day the fish I serve in Mustique is fresher than anywhere else. Sometimes I feel a bit like Sherlock, with Captain Winston and my network of fisherman calling me with tips on the fresh catch of the day. Then I just stroll over to the end of the dock and carry fish directly from the boat to the kitchen, which often causes a bit of a frenzy among our guests… suddenly everyone is ordering the Caribbean Carpaccio.

It’s these magical moments that remind me just what a special place Mustique is.

Archive of Posts

A Visit from the Coral Restoration Foundation

02 May 2017 by Nakita Poon Kong, Environmental Manager, Mustique

A week at White Cedars

06 April 2017 by Cheffoy

A Child's View of Mustique

10 November 2015 by by Louis (7 yrs) and Ollie Birkett (10yrs)

In search of perfect posture

20 October 2015 by Warren Carl

Mustique chic hits NY runway

21 September 2015 by Daily Telegraph

Mustique's Coral Nursery is Thriving

12 June 2015 by Coral Restoration Foundation Volunteer

An Island of Surprises

05 May 2015 by Chris Caldicott

Pioneering Coral Restoration

30 March 2015 by Tripp Funderburk

Saving Mustique's Coral

19 March 2015 by Tripp Funderburk

Are we nearly there yet?

15 January 2015 by Ottie Wyatt

Christmas is a Cracker on the Beach !

24 December 2014 by Tristan Welch

Thanksgiving, Island Style

27 November 2014 by Tristan Welch

Why should I get married?

09 October 2014 by Lottie Fraser

Mustique where Mother Nature reveals her joy

15 September 2014 by Denise Leicester

Ode to a Coconut

25 August 2014 by Tristan Welch

Sustainability on Mustique

20 July 2014 by Denise Leicester

Can fish be too fresh?

15 June 2014 by Tristan Welch