Where does one of the world’s most admired, successful and wealthiest men go on vacation? To his own private island paradise in the Caribbean, naturally, where he can relax and unwind far from the pressures and demands of executive life.
For Sir Richard Branson, founder and owner of the far-reaching Virgin Group that comprises more than 400 major companies worldwide, that special place is Necker Island, basking in the aquamarine waters of the British Virgin Islands.
Fringed by coral reefs and powder-soft beaches, this 74-acre speck of an island can accommodate up to 30 of his closest (and dare we say luckiest) family and friends who can luxuriate in a Caribbean hideaway like no other.
The high-profile and gregarious British magnate has long known Necker is in a class of its own and now he can prove it. At the most recent World Travel Awards, held in Doha, Qatar last November, his beloved and beguiling sanctuary was honored as the World’s Leading Private Island Resort.
Not that he keeps it all to himself. A centerpiece of Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition, a portfolio of unique retreats and luxury hotels around the world, Necker can be hired exclusively for groups by anyone with pockets deep enough to afford the all-inclusive tariff.
And if you’re not looking to hire it exclusively, you can still enjoy Necker during various Celebration Weeks each year, when individual rooms can be booked by singles or couples seeking a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” experience.
The luxury accommodations include nine bedrooms in the Great House and six self-contained Bali Houses dotted around the island, offering guests a house-party atmosphere with the ability to retreat to one’s own private space during quieter moments.
The expansive and al fresco style Great House is designed on the lines of a Balinese villa, perched on a hilltop and affording magnificent views of the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean and neighboring islands.
All of the eight guest rooms in the Great House have balconies and come with king-size beds (which can be split into twin beds in most cases if required) and private en suite bathrooms. The main house also features a bunkroom that sleeps up to six children.
The upper level contains a large and airy master suite with a private outdoor bath and Jacuzzi for lazy lounging in the sun or relaxing with a sundowner cocktail in the evenings.
The Great House is a social hub comprising an expansive outdoor terrace with hammocks and sink-into sofas. Resident chefs working in a state-of-the-art kitchen prepare all meals served family style at a large dining table.
A fully stocked bar, home entertainment system, billiards table, a piano, and guest computers with Internet access keep the house-party atmosphere humming along.
Each of six beautiful and private Bali Houses are also designed in an authentic Balinese style and can accommodate one couple, and some of the houses offer split-levels with a meditation room.
Bali Hi, Bali Cliff and Bali Beach are nestled together and elevated to capture the sea views and breezes. All have private en suite facilities and share a plunge pool. Bali Lo, Bali Buah and Bali Kukila are located in the middle of the island but also have expansive views and share a large private pool. All of the houses have home entertainment systems and are fully air-conditioned.
Main Beach is the big draw during Necker’s sun- splashed daylight hours, featuring an array of watersports, tennis, and beach and pool pavilions for relaxing, dining and socializing.
The palm-fringed Turtle Beach is a quieter retreat with hammocks hanging between trees, and Necker Island Spa offers Balinese inspired treatments by two resident therapists.
Necker has been a vacation retreat for Branson’s own family since his children were born and remains child-friendly with Family Fun Weeks during school holidays. The island is also available for weddings.
All-inclusive rates start from (take a deep breath) $62,000 per night for 30 adults ($2,070 per person per night) or from $27,475 per couple for a seven-night stay during Celebration Weeks.