In the annals of charismatic British peers, Colin Tennant, 3rd Lord Glenconner, stood tall - enterprising yet unworldly, charming yet volatile, whimsical, witty, and courtly, he was an unlikely pioneer of the luxury resort. Given his peculiar gifts and traits, his development and promotion of the island of Mustique could not be copied, but he certainly inspired commercialising the concept of tropical paradise.
Perhaps he had vestiges of the inventive spirit of his Caledonian yeoman forbear, Charles Tennant, who, in 1798, discovered a chemical formulation for bleach. This discovery brought immense riches, a neocolonial castle, The Glen, in Peeblesshire, a baronetcy in 1885, and the barony of Glenconner in 1911. Colin Christopher Paget Tennant was the eldest son of the 2nd baron. Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, he joined the Irish Guards and then the family firm.
In 1959 he acquired the island of Mustique for £45,000 (Dh255,000), having sold land in Trinidad the family had held since the mid-19th century. Two square miles in the Grenadines, barren Mustique barely supported 100 locals. Tennant convinced his wife that winter in Mustique was cheaper than heating their castle. In 1968, after his father sold C Tennant & Sons, he devoted his time and money to the island. He awarded pensions to the island's grandmothers; he built a village, a hotel, and then a series of distinctly different villas.
He had been part of the glamorous set surrounding Princess Margaret since the 1950s and gave her and her husband, Lord Snowdon, a 10-acre plot as a wedding present. Tennant remained a firm friend, his wife became a lady-in-waiting to the princess, but the island blossomed under publicity, even notoriety. Mick Jagger, Tommy Hilfiger, and Bryan Adams led celebrities and billionaires to Mustique, which had caché but no cameras (except regular, respectful coverage by Hello magazine).
In 1992, Lord Glenconner, which he had become in 1983 on the death of his father, sold his remaining interest in the island for £1 million to the Mustique Company. Christina Onassis's third husband, a former KGB agent, bought his personal home, dubbed the Great House. Glenconner then bought land in nearby St Lucia, taking his beloved elephant, Bupa, with him. After a mango farm failed, he bought the Beau estate in the island's south-west and settled into a beachside house. Upon his death, despite reversals, he was working on plans for another development.
He is survived by his wife, Lady Anne Coke, his third son and twin daughters; his two elder sons predeceased him. Lord Glenconner, landowner, was born December 1, 1926. He died on August 27, 2010, aged 83.