Monday, April 9, 2007

Shopping Safari: Mustique

By Jamee Gregory

Who could refuse an invitation to Mustique, the glamorous island refuge of Princess Margaret, Collin Tenant, and Mick Jagger? A destination defined by Oliver Messel’s stylish homes, featured often in Architectural Digest, populated by colorful personalities from all over the world is worth the long flight to Barbados and the forty minute hop in a bright yellow plane that looks too small to make it!

Invited, along with 16 others, to stay in Monica and Walter Noel’s fabulous home, Yemanja, named after the goddess of the sea, we accepted with pleasure. Sweeping views of sea and mountain from every side of the house, decorated in shades of coral, perfect for outdoor living where African wooden furniture and comfortable sofas, big as beds, dot the vast outdoor living space where guests recline under a huge thatched palapa, more common in Mexico than Mustique, add to the fun, cooling the air all day, sheltering the guests at night. Infinity pools seem to merge with the cornflower blue sky.
Above: Drinks on the deck of the famous Basil's Bar. Below, l. to r.: Basil's complex on stilts; The deck at Basil's, peaceful before the "Jump Up" a weekly party.
Germans, Brazilians and French guests arrive for meals always taken outdoors. Chef/House-Manager David prepares 300 meals a week when the house is full. Healthy platters, piled with grilled shrimps, delicious salads, bowls of gazpacho and green pea soup, desserts elegant as soufflés, roulades, home-made passion fruit ice-cream, meringues filled with berries tempt each night. Freshly baked breads and warm cookies, irresistible and delicious, make long walks up and down the rolling hills necessary.
Tee shirts line the wall's at Basil's Boutique.
Tennis at the Cotton House, barbecues served under open tents at the beach, with skewered chicken kebabs and barbecued spare-ribs and Domaine Ott served on tables covered in flowered cloths make for special picnics at Macaroni Beach, an unspoiled sweep of sea. We visit homes, spend afternoons in the ocean, swimming off the Noel’s boat, and hike across vast pristine beaches.
Colorful flag line the approach to the village.
Mustique's garden shop. Inset: An island "mule" stopping to pick up supplies. The four-wheelers are the island's only form of transportation.
On Tuesday night we attend the Cotton Club’s cocktail but miss Wednesday’s “Jump Up” at Basil’s bar where the guests in many of the island’s 90 homes stop by to dance on the deck. We lunch with island luminaries, like Basil, who entertains us with stories of island lore.
Clockwise from top: A rack of hand-painted pareos, wraps, and caftans by Lotty B, the doctor's wife and Mustique's best-known designer; The swim and surf boutique with caps, tees, and trunks; Hand-painted bowls, created by local artists.
Even here, in paradise, I find time to shop. The Cotton House, Mustique’s only hotel, boasts one colorful shop besides its soothing spa. Canovas cover-ups, tunics, bikinis and bags cover its walls and fill its shelves. I discover long ropes of wonderful painted beads.
Clockwise from top left: The gingerbread facade of the villages two boutiques; Bright pink and green draws visitors inside; Johanna Banana, the chic boutique, it's trellis covered in a riot of trailing flowers.
In the small and charming village center there is a fish market, a convenience store, a surf shop and Johanna’s Banana, a carefully edited shop that caters to the island’s worldly contingent of home owners. I fall for a pale violet shirt, covered in golden Indian-style swirls from Juliet Dunn of London along with a black tee-shirt with a sequined skull on its chest.
The Food Store.
Fishermen at the end of the day.
The island’s specialty, hand-painted silks from Lotty B, is a great temptation. Lotty, wife of the island’s only doctor creates her designs on brilliantly-colored silks and produces them in China. Her elegant caftans and pareos cover the bodies of chic residents and visitors alike, a perfect souvenir of a week well-spent in this ravishingly beautiful spot.
The island's popular fish market, peaceful by the afternoon.
Desmond Fitzgerald, Monica and Walter Noel and me, relaxing under the thatched palapa at Noel's home, Yemanja enjoying the view. Inset: Mai Harrison and Jeanne Hanisford at the Cotton House Boutique checking out the bikinis.