Smart Luxury

Receive the Royal Treatment at this Private Caribbean Hilltop Estate

by  Katie McElveen | Nov 25, 2019
Toucan Hill, Mustique
Toucan Hill, Mustique / Courtesy of the property

If you’ve ever thought about how great it would be to combine the services you get at a luxury resort — you know, breakfast in bed, clean towels every day, and someone to bring you drinks by the pool — with the privacy and space you find in a villa, you need to spend your next vacation at Toucan Hill, a sprawling, fully staffed property on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

And we do mean fully staffed. The seven-member team includes a butler, cook, cleaning people, gardeners, and an estate manager who seems to delight in coming up with new ways to pamper you (think a private picnic on the beach complete with fine china, silver flatware, cloth napkins, and an endless supply of chilled rosé, of course) The best part? You'll probably have the entire beach to yourself — unless you count the cheeky tortoises who slink over to beg for lettuce scraps.

Then, there are the views. Walking up the staircase and into the villa, the first thing you’ll see is the bright blue Caribbean Sea and, in the distance, the shadowy peaks of Bequia, in the Grenadines. Walk around the terrace (or up to the top of the dome-topped mirador) and you’ll be able to take in the crashing indigo waves of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Toucan Hill, Mustique / Courtesy of the property

About the Villa

Marooned on Mustique after a blizzard made it impossible to return to the US, Toucan Hill’s owners, who had rented a villa nearby, decided to spend their extra days looking for a site for an island home of their own. One morning, after picking their way to a lot set on the highest point on the island, they knew they had their place.

It took ten years to complete and furnish the villa, a 10,000-square foot Moroccan fantasy complete with ornate fountains, two infinity pools, elegant arched loggias, acres of manicured gardens, and a cloister that was inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The owners collected the furnishings and accessories from all over the world — tables are topped with intricate mosaics of lapis, mother of pearl, and malachite; Turkish tiles transform walls into works of art; and Italian urns fill empty spaces. The floor of the dining room, a circular, glass-walled aerie with views of the Caribbean, is made of Brazilian marble tiles in a shade of blue that matches the sky.

Meals are usually served on the covered patio, where you can enjoy the breeze as you watch boats make their way across the channel to Bequia. But, you can dine anywhere you please, including the dining room, your terrace, next to one of the pools, or atop the mirador. No matter which space you choose, your meal will arrive on a different set of china (the owners have collected more than 30 complete sets) with matching linens and glassware. Your only job is to let the staff know your food preferences, what time you’d like to eat, and your beverages of choice.

The villa has four bedrooms: two upstairs and two down, each with gigantic stone and marble bathrooms, air conditioning, king-sized beds, and oversized bathrooms with spa showers. 

Toucan Hill, Mustique / Courtesy of the property

What To Do on Mustique

Here, days are best spent outside, on beaches that aren’t just gorgeous, but also wonderfully devoid of homes, condos, hotels, boardwalks, and, for the most part, other people. Most are long and narrow, with a fringe of sun-dappled forest and a thatched-roof picnic shelter or two tucked into the shade. Rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and other water toys at the Mustique Watersports Center and they’ll deliver them straight to the beach; you can also go horseback riding (helmets and boots are provided) or play tennis.

The hilly island is also laced with 22 miles of hiking trails that lead from beach to beach, around the lagoon, over rocky outcroppings, and through dense tropical forests sprinkled with wild orchids. 

Because Mustique is so small — there are normally between 120 and 150 guests on the island — visitors and villa owners gather at the island’s two most popular venues, Basil’s Bar and the Cotton House Hotel. Here, you're just as likely run into villa owner Mick Jagger or recent visitor Harry Styles as you are the visiting royalty (Kate and Will bring the children here each summer). Another hot spot is Patrick’s Bar at the Firefly Hotel, which is known for espresso martinis, champagne, and gorgeous views of Britania Bay. 

Shopping is limited to two adjacent gingerbread-clad boutiques, the Pink House and the Purple House. Both specialize in island-style clothing for men, women, and children; the Pink House is owned by Lottie Bunbury (and her husband, the island’s doctor), whose Lottie B kaftans, sarongs, and linen shirts are island staples.

The island’s largest hotel, the 17-room Cotton House, has a full service spa (and a lovely jewel-box boutique) offering facials, massages, and other treatments for men and women.

Toucan Hill, Mustique / Courtesy of the property

About Mustique

Part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mustique is both tiny and exclusive: the private island is owned by 120 landowners, who oversee everything from rentals to transportation to and from the island. It’s also incredibly safe (there's almost zero crime). Visitors get around on open-air four-wheel drive vehicles (you’ll need to get a license before you arrive). Guests of Toucan Hill can be ferried around by the staff, a bonus, given that the island’s twisty roads don’t have names. 

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