of the month: Richard Branson
- Virgin Enterprises
Island (British Virgin Islands)
Necker Island is a small island in the British Virgin
Islands just north of Virgin Gorda, located at 18°31'36?N,
64°21'26?W. It is owned by Sir Richard Branson,
famous for his Virgin brand. The island is rented
out as a luxury resort for between $30,000 to $40,000
island was named after the 17th century Dutch squadron
commander, Johannes de Neckere, although it remained
uninhabited until the late 20th century.
McCullin and Andrew Alexander ran a survival test
on the island in 1968. They were on the island for
14 days and chopped down most of the palm trees on
the island for use as shelter.
Richard first became aware that some of the islands
in the British Virgin Islands were up for sale
in 1979. In 1978 (then) Richard Branson went to
the British Virgin Islands for a holiday, have
heard that if you wanted to buy an island you
would be feted like royalty. He looked at islands
saying he would use them to put up rock stars
for his record label. Upon arrival, they were
greeted like royalty, given a luxury villa and
travelled around islands for sale by helicopter.
The final island he saw was Necker island, and
after climbing the hill and being stunned by the
view and wildlife, fell in love with the island.
But after making a lowball bid of ?200,000 for
the ?3 million island his bags were packed and
he was evicted from the villa. A while later the
owner Lord Cobham in need of short term cash eventually
settled for ?180,000, but there were snags. The
Government imposed a relatively common restriction
on alien landholders; that the new owner had to
develop a resort within 5 years or the island
would revert to the state. So Branson committed,
determined to build a resort on his tropical dream
isle, notwithstanding his relatively modest capital
at that time in his career.
Branson bought the 74 acre island it was a forlorn
little rock, albeit in a pretty spectacular part of
the world. It took 3 years and approximately US$10
million to turn it into a world class private island
retreat. Using local stone, Brazilian hardwoods, antiques,
art pieces and fabrics and bamboo furniture from Bali
the Architects and designers created a 10 bedroom
Balinese-style villa crowning a hill above the beach.
Each of the 10 bedrooms has open walls giving a 360-degree
view and cooling winds from any direction in the house.
The island has accommodation for 24 people and rents
out at a reported US$20,000 a day. All that includes
two "private" beaches, private pools, tennis
courts, breathtaking views, a personal chef and a
wide array of water sports equipment.
famous figures have stayed at the resort, including
the late Princess Diana, Janet Jackson, Harrison Ford,
Steve Charles, Eddie Murphy and Oprah Winfrey.
The island is available for weddings, relaxation breaks,
sports vacations and even complete rentals for any
purpose. It is served by daily connecting flights
from Puerto Rico, Antigua and Barbados, in addition
to chartered helicopter flights from Puerto Rico,
Tortola and St. Thomas.
Although the island is entirely privately owned, under
British Virgin Islands law, all beaches up to the
high water mark are technically crown land, and are
open to the members of the public. In practice, the
security personnel which accompany guests to Necker
Island are reported as making it difficult for ordinary
members of public to enjoy the beaches.
purchasing the island, environmentalists expressed
concerns that Necker Island was one of the relatively
few places in the world that a rare species of gecko
lives and breeds. When Branson was granted an alien
land-holder's licence to enable him to purchase the
island, it was made conditional upon Branson agreeing
that any legitimate scientific expedition to study
the geckos should have full and unfettered access
to the island.
Network Nine 'Getaway')
September 22, 2005
British Virgin Islands are made up of 50 smaller
islands and islets, which are mostly small and
many are uninhabited. The area is largely unspoiled
by tourism and enjoys some of the best weather
in the Caribbean. Development is limited —
the tallest things around are swaying coconut
Island, a small rocky landmass at the north-eastern
extremity of the island chain, first received
publicity in the 1960s when a war photographer
and his friend chose to be marooned there, without
food or water, as a survival test. They lasted
14 days, during which time they chopped down most
of the island's few palms.
years later, Richard Branson saw Necker and fell
in love with it, but not the asking price. Two
years later, the vendors negotiated and the successful
British entrepreneur added a Caribbean island
to his portfolio.
is almost completely encircled by coral reefs,
is relatively isolated and rarely visited, even
by the numerous charter boats cruising the area.
It was probably always that way, as there's no
evidence of the pre-Columbian artefacts which
have been found on neighbouring islands.
scenery ranges from beautiful sandy beaches punctuated
by jutting headlands and cactus-studded ridges
on beautiful hillsides. The clear Caribbean waters
are crammed with superbly varied colours and shapes.
Richard's dream of building a house for family
and friends to enjoy began in 1982 on Devil's
Hill. Everything had to be taken in by boat to
build the airy Balinese-style construction —
manpower, water, diggers, trucks, the lot. The
house appears to be growing out of a rock. Much
thought was put into maintaining the natural ecosystem.
Where possible, natural materials from the island
were used and the main walls are built from stone
removed from the top of the hill. Brazil, Bali
and Yorkshire were sources of various components.
island accommodates just 26 people, with 10 rooms
in the Great House, including the Master Suite,
supplemented by three authentic one-bedroom Balinese
houses. They are within easy reach of the main
house and offer privacy for those who wish to
escape from time to time.
breakfast each morning, staff ask guests what
they would like to do for the day.
Beach Pavilion has an absolutely stunning pool,
accessible from land or beach. The infinity pool
has a swim-up bar, water exercise machine and
waterfall. The Crocodile Pavilion has a solid
teak crocodile table where guests are served delicious
fare from the gourmet kitchen.
meals are informal, either taken in the dining
room, around the pool or on the beach. Fresh fruit,
vegetables and seafood are creatively prepared.
Beach barbecues are popular, as is the sushi bar
at the pool. Themed nights are lots of fun and
chefs cater for special requirements.
island has two tennis courts, air-conditioned
gymnasium, loads of board games and a huge range
of DVDs and CDs. Hammocks can sway you into oblivion
as you soak in the sun and views.
off the island are easily arranged — deep
sea fishing, scuba diving, island hopping, shopping,
helicopter flights and yacht charters are there
for the asking.
The British Virgin Islands.
Necker Island sleeps up to 26 and costs around
$30,000 a night for the entire island. All meals,
alcoholic beverages and activities are included.
note that the prices listed are valid at the time
Limited Edition by Virgin
5 The Lanchesters
162-164 Fulham Palace Road
London W6 9ER
Ph: 44 (0)20 8600 0430
Fax: 44 (0) 20 8600 0431
Group of Companies
Luxury Real Estate