6 Caribbean destinations to follow in the footsteps of stars

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Necker Island

Showbusiness royalty (Noël Coward and Joyce Carey), real royalty (Princess Margaret), billionaires (Richard Branson) and authors (Ian Fleming) have all fallen for the Caribbean’s rich history, laid-back ambience and lush natural beauty.

Here are six of the best Caribbean destinations to follow in their famous footsteps:

1. Necker Island

Richard Branson loves a party. Perhaps that’s why Necker, his private island home, is where his celebrity friends come to let their hair down, far from prying paparazzi. It’s a resort run with the motto “anything is possible” (Branson arrived at his own wedding clinging to the struts of a helicopter) and it’s less hotel, more house party, where guests can help themselves from behind the bar. There’s no dress code for dinner – staff wear shorts or bikinis to work – but for the island’s legendary parties you’re encouraged to dress up. Branson’s icebreaker is to get up on the table and bust some moves, then anything goes, all helped along with Champagne – so free-flowing it’s dubbed “Necker water” – until the last man, or woman, is no longer standing. Fortunately, Vegas rules apply: what happens on Necker stays on Necker.

Picture courtesy of Jack Brockway

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Villa Rockstar, Eden Rock, St Barts

St Barts is arguably the most famous Caribbean celebrity destination and Villa Rockstar certainly lives up to its name. Wannabe rock stars can lay down tracks in the state-of-the-art – and soundproofed – studio, which comes complete with a full line-up of instruments and the actual Neve mixing console that John Lennon used to record Imagine. And don’t worry if you can’t hold a tune. Eden Rock has a partnership with an LA producer-to-the-stars who will polish your soundtrack overnight. Spread over three floors and 1,500 square metres, you can squeeze quite an entourage into Rockstar’s dazzlingly white, open-plan space. When you’re not recording, make like a superstar and knock back a whisky or two – there are 40 to choose from – in the hot tub. A walled garden keeps any passing paparazzi at bay and a discreet butler caters to your every whim. The four ultra-luxe suites come with views over St Jean’s perfect crescent of sparkling sand and one – the Freddie Mercury – even has its own circular bathroom lined with white gold mosaic tiles. Now that’s rock ’n’ roll.

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Caribbean destinations to follow in the footsteps of stars

Every winter Ian Fleming would hole up at his five-bedroom tropical retreat at Oracabessa Bay and create another James Bond adventure. Jamaica was his muse and now that the villa is part of the GoldenEye Hotel & Resort (owned by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell) you can discover the places that inspired him. A new Fleming-focused package involves staying in seclusion at his home. His day ran like a well-oiled machine and you can follow suit: he would go fishing in the morning (GoldenEye will arrange for you to catch your lunch with the help of local fishermen); write 1,000 words (at least scribble your postcards at the desk where all the 007 books were penned); have cocktails on the terrace; then go snorkelling (the inspiration for Octopussy); another 1,000 words in the late afternoon; before more vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred) and dinner at Firefly, the pad of his old pal Noël Coward (you’ll get a private tour of his house). Dr No was shot in and around Ocho Rios (one of the best James Bond destinations to visit on a superyacht) so sit back on Fleming’s private beach and imagine Honey Rider – or Daniel Craig, if you like – emerging from the surf. You have licence to chill, after all.

Picture courtesy of Corbis

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The Heritage Trail, Nevis

Verdant Nevis may be the place to perfect the fine art of limin’ – doing nothing in particular – but this diminutive island also packs an outsized historical punch. Centuries of colonial history have left their mark on the Queen of the Caribbees and cycling along the Heritage Trail you’ll pass the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean, still standing after almost 400 years, and the austere Bath Hotel, the Caribbean’s first. The island became rich from sugar but Montpelier Plantation, where Horatio Nelson married Fanny Nisbet, is now home to a boutique hotel surrounded by tropical gardens, all lofty palms and tumbling bougainvillea, where brazen vervet monkeys tug ripe mangoes from the trees and you can dine by candlelight in the 300-year-old sugar mill, Mill Privée. End up in Charlestown, the unhurried capital, where the perfectly preserved stone buildings are redolent of another age, from the 17th century Nevis Slave Market, to the food market, its stalls piled high with plantains, breadfruit and Scotch Bonnet chillies. Christophe Harbour, in neighbouring St Kitts, officially opened earlier this year which now makes it even easier to visit on a superyacht.

Picture courtesy of Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

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Basil's Bar, Mustique

Every Wednesday the institution that is Basil’s Bar – the social hub of uber-chic and privately owned Mustique – jumps to the reggae and calypso beats of a live band. And Basil Charles, aka the King of Mustique, is at the heart of it all, as he has been for the past five decades. Charismatic Basil charmed the British aristocracy from the start and, as well as being a friend, he was Princess Margaret’s go-to guy for cold drinks, delivered direct to her lounger. His Robinson Crusoe-esque bar, set on the rocks in Britannia Bay, is still the ultimate melting pot. Is that Georgia May Jagger knocking back a rum punch or Bryan Adams strutting his stuff? Everyone’s far too cool to notice – even when a barefoot Prince William belted out a rousing rendition of Suspicious Minds. In Mustique, nonchalance is key, even at the Jump Up, and it is a must-visit yachtie watering hole.

Picture courtesy of World Pictures Photoshok

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Hiking up Gros Piton, St Lucia

The sharp volcanic peaks of the twin Pitons rise out of St Lucia, creating the island’s most distinctive landmark. Gros Piton is 27 metres taller than Petit, at 770 metres, but is actually easier to climb. While it’s not for the faint-hearted, you can do it in four to six hours on a guided hike. Take on the challenge and as you traverse the narrow switchbacks and steps carved from volcanic stone you’ll learn about the mountain’s flora and fauna, as well as its history. During the slave rebellion of 1748, many of the freedom fighters sought refuge here after fleeing the plantations, and many of the guides are their direct descendants. While about a fifth of climbers don’t manage to get all the way to the summit, those that do are rewarded with a humdinger of a view, which stretches over the island and across the sea to St Vincent to the south and Martinique to the north. The hike should be on everyones' Caribbean bucket-list. Afterwards wind down with an ice-cold Piton beer that will taste even better than usual.

Picture courtesy of  Plus One/Shutterstock.com

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