If Bequai is the Real Caribbean, then Mustique is, well, the polar opposite.
A private island with 190 villas (code speak for huge mansions on manicured grounds), it was first developed in the 1940’s and quickly discovered by the international jet set crowd. Today villas here are owned by the likes of Mick Jagger, Brian Adams, Tommy Hilfiger – you get the picture.
While the island itself is beautiful, it was not blessed with anything resembling a natural harbor. And so all these folks vacation here, but the only private craft owned by a local was a 30 year old Sunfish. At least the owner was out sailing it while we were there visiting.
Though none of the locals are boaters, they seem to like the ambiance created at their private island when there’s 15-20 yachts and super yachts moored off the beach. Cruisers are welcome to come to shore, visit the village and enjoy the shops and restaurants. We can walk the beach, but to go anywhere else on the island one must take a taxi (there are 3 on the island). To wander off on your own will most certainly result in being permanently escorted off the island – they take their security serious here.
It takes a small army of workers to run an island, especially since some of the larger villas have full time staff of 12-15. There is a small village where 150 inhabitants live; these are the workers on the island who have been here for the better part of their entire lives.
We hired Johnny, one of the three taxi drivers, for a tour of the island. He explained that the modest homes they live in are theirs though they do not have equity in the traditional sense. Possession of the home he now lives in passes to his daughter upon his death. The company that manages the island (it’s owned by the 190 villas owners) provides the workers homes and even pays the utility bills.
Workers qualify for retirement at 65, and the company will hire a healthcare caregiver when it’s necessary. They also pay the cost for burial. I asked what most folks did once they retired, and he said they’re capable of continuing to work, and since that’s all anybody has known most folks just keep working.
Johnny also commented that every single person on the island had a job, nobody was idle, they had full employment.
As we traversed the rolling hills and beach lands Johnny walked us through the concepts of triple B and triple M that were pertinent on Mustique.
Triple B: Buy, Break, Build. This is what the new arrivals would do – buy an existing home (no more undeveloped lots remaining), break it as in tear it down, then spend a few years building anew. They were now seeing triple B applied to villas as new as 5 years.
Triple M: Make More Money. This is why the villa owners tell Johnny they’re leaving paradise as he’s driving them in his taxi to their charter flight home.
We enjoyed meeting Ali and Heidi at the local coffee shop. Ali arrived 31 years ago as a baker from France and has stayed ever since, marrying and raising kids (school is available through sixth grade then the kiddos go to Saint Vincent for secondary education). Ali arises at midnight to start making pastries, croissants, quiche, loaves of bread, cookies, etc. Open from 6 am he serves everyone on the island with a big smile and lots of happy energy.
Basil’s was a fun place to hang out – it had perfected that relaxed beach bar atmosphere with just the right touch of class and elegance. It all made sense when we learned that Basil’s had been reimagined in 2015 by Philippe Starck. Go figure.
Very welcoming people, amazing beaches, excellent snorkeling along the reef, beautiful scenery and fun times eating and dancing at Basil’s. Everything needed to forget the anchorage was so rolly from the Atlantic swell coming around the corner that Susan had to sleep on her stomach with both arms out to keep her on the bed.