This is where David Bowie spent his holidays
David Bowie skillfully juggled his stage personas but there was one place where he could possibly take off all the masks.
A dreamlike Caribbean mansion called Mandalay Estate was built on the private island of Mystique in 1989. The island sits at the northern tip of The Grenadines bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. A perfect holiday retreat for The Man Who Fell to Earth. And, well, this place was worth falling.
Back at that time, Bowie’s main residence was in Lausanne, Switzerland, while he owned as well an apartment in Los Angeles. Only a proper vacation house was needed to complete this rockstar package.
“Why Mustique indeed,” Bowie said. “Frankly, it was quite odd. I went down to spend a couple of days with Mick and Jerry in their house, and while waiting for the boat—I was going to take a trip up and down the Caribbean and it never happened because the propeller fell out or something—I was stranded. And I just went scouting one day, having nothing better to do, there being little else to do there, and I came across this area of land attached to Arne Hasselqvist’s. And we talked about it, and I thought, Why not?”
But actually, Bowie had to thank not the delayed transfer, but Princess Margaret. In 1960, the queen’s younger sister built an island getaway, and soon after, she made Mick Jagger aware of the island.
Bowie bought the mansion in 1986 and it took almost three years to transform this five-bedroom property into a magical tropical home with koi ponds, pools and private verandas overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
Architect Arne Hasselqvist built a series of Scandinavian- and Japanese-style pavilions, while designers Robert J. Litwiller, Linda Garland, and Michael White created colorful interiors where different cultural influences are merged only to overwhelm us.
There are Balinese living room doors, carved columns, bamboo vaulted ceilings, and, of course, English furnishings. The 6.2-acres compound is a blend of ornate Balinese style, essential modern elements and Caribbean charm.
“It’s a whim personified,” said David Bowie. “I love a good cliché, and this house for me is just the most delightful cliché.”
The house still has all original furniture and decorations hand-picked by the artist. Each bedroom comes with its own private veranda.
In 1995 Bowie sold the home to publisher Felix Dennis for $5 million. Dennis even inscribed a poem to the mansion.
Let’s run away, just you and me,
Down to my garden by the sea,
Far, far away in Caribbee!
Following Dennis’ death in 2014, the mansion was put up for sale for $20 million, and British millionaire and David Bowie fan Simon Dolan didn’t hesitate for a long time to bid. He is the current owner of the estate and recently listed it for rent.
If you’re looking for an ultimate escapism, you’ll get it for $70,000 per week. The highlight: there’s plenty of fingerprints of previous owners throughout the property. Dolan left the decor of the estate untouched.
The Studio cottage originally served as Bowie’s recording studio. But apparently the musician hasn’t often crossed its threshold.
“The house is such a tranquil place that I have absolutely no motivation to write things when I’m there,” recalled Bowie.
Today it’s a guesthouse with one bedroom for those who need the highest level of privacy or put romance above luxury.
The list of offered activities on the island is impressive. We do not blame Bowie for his laziness. The choice between writing a hit and walking on the picturesque beach is pretty obvious.
The tourists can rely on the varied activities both on land and on the water. From horse riding to snorkeling or exploring the Caribbean sea on the 45’ Catamaran, the hospitable resort leaves no wishes unfulfilled.
As if it would be a homage on the previous owner, the mansion is perfectly equipped for entertainment. Library with over 3000 books and film library with over 2000 movies keep company even if you spend your vacation alone.
Besides, there’s a fully equipped music rehearsal room. If that’s not a challenge for the young-guns from the NME pages! Come and try to write a Brit-Award-worthy song in the place, where even Bowie, who was always keeping us in suspense, was too relaxed.