Sometimes, only the best will do

Tropical flowers in the bedroom, lunch brought to the beach. That's Mustique.

Now I don't wish to knock all those budget guidebooks that tell you how to crash out in Manhattan for a dollar, or give tips on how to create a tasty meal of lentils while on a hike. But sometimes a holiday of hedonism is all that will do. I mean glamour; the sort of trip that requires nail varnish and dressing up for dinner.

Barbados, with its true winter "season", is a good contender. "Our season runs from mid-December to mid-April," says Trevor Ramsay, owner of the Treasure Beach Hotel on the western side of the island. "It's a little more, well, polished than the season in resorts in places like Africa." The hotel, which consists of 25 private suites, surrounds a pool and garden blooming with hibiscus, bougainvillaea and jasmine. You can laze on the beach every day, and drink cocktails and dance to calypso bands every night. Best of all, between November and March, there are no kids under 12. But is there glamour? "Oh yes, we have the stars here. Dave Allen, Brian Ferry. And Mark Pitman was married here. It was in Hello!."

Well, quite. But I don't want to have my holiday wrecked by invasions from Hello!. I want private luxury, true get-away-from-it-all glamour. So I flew away from Barbados in a nine-seater Cessna and went to the tiny island of Mustique.

There's just one landing strip, carved out between high, heavily wooded mountains. There are no night flights; in emergencies, people on the island simply drive along to the airport and line their cars up with the headlights full on, to provide illumination. The airport itself is a small hut with a bench for Customs, and, weirdly, a lending library, two bamboo bookshelves stacked with titles such as Fishing with Ray Bergman. And that's it. Celebrity marriages? I don't think so. The paparazzi have their cameras removed on arrival. Welcome to the most exclusive island in the Caribbean.

Mustique was put on the map by Princess Margaret who was given a plot of land here as a wedding present by Colin Tennant. Tennant had bought the three-mile long island in 1959 for pounds 43,000. It was a lot of money for not very much; an empty wilderness with no fresh water and a rampaging population of mosquitoes (hence the name). But Tennant had a vision and in subsequent years he managed to woo the talented, the artistic and the mega-rich from all over the world in order to achieve it.

Margaret built a villa on her plot of land and brought her social set along for Christmas. Gradually, they too bought their own plots of land and built their villas; and thus began the history of Mustique's glittering exclusivity. You can practically smell it on arrival. Brushed beaches, clipped grass and blue skies frame multi-million dollar houses in a guaranteed mosquito-free atmosphere thanks to frequent visits from sprayer planes. The houses aren't built on the beaches. They don't need to be. These people have their own pools, their own jacuzzis; hey, they even come equipped with golf-simulation cinemas equipped just so you can practise your swing. Who lives here? Oh, the Jaggers, royalty, Swiss bankers. Serious money. "Didn't you know that David Bowie's just sold up, for four?" Four what? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? "No, stupid. Millions," In Mustique, everyone speaks in multiples of six zeros.

For mere mortals, Mustique is probably the best place in the world where you can still play at being a superstar for a week. More private club than resort, this is one place in the Caribbean where parties from cruise ships are not welcome. There's only one hotel, for a start. The Cotton House, an 18th-century coral and stone cotton warehouse that was taken over by Tennant and used as his HQ in the Sixties, is now a deluxe hotel and centre of the island's social scene.

Decorated in a somewhat outrageous style by the theatrical designer Oliver Messel, the Cotton House now has 20 suites dotted about the grounds surrounding the main building, and a reputation for service that relegates the average five-star British hotel to something approximating a motorway service station.

Oh yes, there's all the regular luxuries like tropical flowers in the bedroom, ice-buckets changed regularly and cocktails on arrival, but lunch brought by hand to whichever beach you desire? Surely some mistake? Not at all. If you wish to pretend that you're in some Fleming-esque fantasy, you can do so. A brief word at breakfast by the pool is all that's necessary. So after a morning swimming, snorkelling or going for a gallop along one of the island's pure white, combed beaches, you simply plonk yourself down at the appointed site with a towel and plenty of factor 25 and wait for nourishment. At the pre-arranged moment, it will arrive.

British people not used to this sort of treatment might find Mustique hard to swallow. It's also rather expensive: the price for a room for two per night can rival the cost of your transatlantic flight. But you only need two or three days here, so intense is the experience. After lunch on the beach, full English tea is served in the main dining room. The room still has Colin Tennant's original decorations: armoires studded with cowrie shells are flanked by Indian chests and stuffed birds in glass cases. Every day at tea-time, triangular sandwiches arrive on trays, plus petits fours, banana bread and Caribbean tea with condensed milk.

Every Tuesday night the management of the Cotton House invites hotel guests and anyone else currently staying on the island, to a cocktail party. Unlike with most "drinks with the management" invitations, everyone turns up. Mustique is so small and the amusements on the island are so limited, that there's not much else to do. So you could end up having drinks with Mick Jagger, Spike Lee, David and Serena Linley, and Billy Joel, all at the same time. Then you get invited to pop back to their pads for dinner. It happens. "Don't take it too seriously," we are warned. "Casual, informal elegance. Wear your little black dress if you like, but with bare feet." Bare feet? For dancing on the beach. But don't forget to have a pedicure.

Rosie Millard paid pounds 300 for a London-Barbados ticket through Golden Lion Travel (01293 567800). The Treasure Beach in Barbados and the Cotton House in Mustique are both bookable in the UK through Unique Hotels (01453 835801). At Treasure Beach, the cheapest room until 12 April is pounds 278 without meals; from 13 April, the price halves to pounds 134. From now until mid-April, a deluxe room at the Cotton House costs pounds 370 half-board including tax. During the low season (16 April-15 December), the price falls to pounds 253.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn