The story of Mustique’s evolution has been well documented over the years. It was a unique concept, the product of one man’s vision that has developed over time into a thriving and desirable destination. Its landscape today possesses the same breathtaking allure that its early residents enjoyed fifty years ago, but now pleasingly combined with a world class degree of modern luxury.
In 1958 Lord Glenconner, Colin Tennant, arrived on Mustique and bought the island for just £45,000 despite the fact it had no roads, no jetties and no running water. Initial ambitions were to see it thrive as a cotton plantation, but these plans did not prove economically viable and Tennant looked for other ways to develop the island. Having gifted his good friend Princess Margaret a plot in 1960, there was considerable media interest in Mustique as a destination and in 1968 he formed the Mustique Company to develop a private island hideaway for the rich and famous.
There were two architects who helped shape the island during its early years; Arne Hasselqvist, a resourceful construction engineer from Sweden, who was employed by the company to bring Tennant’s vision to life; and Oliver Messel, a leading British theatre set designer who had developed a reputation for the houses he had designed on neighbouring Barbados.
With the help of entrepreneurial investors a business model was created. The idea was for the island to be split into plots and sold to shareholders who would invest equally in the infrastructure. Plots were quickly bought by an eclectic group of socialites, rock stars and private individuals who flocked to the island from far and wide to create their fantasy dream houses and to be part of something unique.
The last fifty years has seen Mustique become one of the most sought after holiday destinations in the world, where homeowners frequently return and visitors repeatedly rent one of the many private villas that are available throughout the year. Such is the island’s allure that guests come back year after year to visit old friends and embrace the pure escape that Mustique represents – the quintessential private island paradise.
This was the era of the pioneer, when Lord Glenconner (Colin Tennant) discovered the island in 1958. Struck by its natural beauty and charm, even though the island had no water or other resources, he fell for the idea of romantic, bohemian life in the West Indies and bought it. Initial plans to create a cotton plantation failed but when rebuilding the Great House following a fire in 1960 he had the idea to turn the island into a desirable holiday destination for a private community.
In 1968 the Mustique Company was formed and approval was granted by the Government of St Vincent & Grenadines to establish a community. Thanks to Tennant’s genius for publicity, people and parties, the island attracted an increasingly glamorous and eclectic crowd who in turn fell in love with the island buying land and building their dream holiday homes.
In the early 80’s a shareholder system was introduced, creating a successful business model and financial independence for the island. Greater investment was made in the island’s infrastructure, planning laws were relaxed and an explosion of more sophisticated and ambitious architectural styles followed, as the island’s reputation spread and aspirational owners flocked to create their fantasy homes.
The island became the hub of the international jet set. Throughout the 90’s this attracted a new wave of successful entrepreneurs and their families, who valued privacy above all things and wanted to get away from the public eye. Mustique became an increasingly popular destination for them, renowned for its safety, security and the opportunity for social and business relationships to be forged on the beach, on the tennis court and at dinner.
By 2000 an extraordinary diverse social scene was evolving with a community comprised of over 20 different nationalities. The island and its architecture became recognizable with international editors as a creative resource, featuring repeatedly in social, fashion and design magazines around the world. This attracted a new generation, and Mustique subsequently started to enjoy a “renaissance amongst the young” with a return to the wild hedonistic parties of its early years, yet still remaining a family-friendly environment.
Recognising the need for a plan for the future the company turned its focus to the island’s sustainability and conservation. Environmental and charitable foundations were established, committed to raising funds to improve the lives of those within St Vincent & Grenadines and conserving the island for future generations. Luxury can go hand in hand with conservation on Mustique.
Having a reputation as the ultimate private island holiday destination it is frequented by a loyal following of villa renters who make an annual pilgrimage to Mustique not only for the wild glamour of the New Year’s Eve parties but to enjoy the quieter seasons of peace and solitude.
There are few places left in the world that can offer such a safe and private paradise.