The government required that the new owner should build a resort within five years from the date of purchase or the island would revert back to the state.
Branson complied and built not only his home on the island but also one of the most exclusive, private retreats in the world.
The 74-acre island can host 16 to 28 guests all year-round for the price of $42,000 a night. Individual villas can also be rented to couples for $27,000 a week during several weeks out of the year.
We were invited to tour the island by Sir Richard, and his Virgin Limited Edition company, which manages his luxury resort properties around the world, flew us to Necker last week. We will be publishing posts about our trip in the upcoming days. You’ll be able to find them all here.
Disclosure: We were flown out to Necker Island, BVI by Virgin Limited Edition, which covered our travel and lodging expenses.
On our first morning on Necker, the staff organised a hike around the island. They had sneakers in various sizes, if you didn't bring your own. Under Armour is the unofficial sports apparel provider for Necker.
The obligatory basket with various protection products is always nearby. Sunscreen by Sun Bum for the day, and Johnson's OFF or natural mosquito repellents and after-bite lotions for the evenings.
This is the most western tip of the island, where three of the guests houses get amazing sunset views. They are also exposed to the flamingo pond on the right and Turtle beach on the left.
Here is a close-up of some of the 150 flamingos found on the island. The younger birds are whiter, and eventually, they turn pink.
And this is Turtle Beach, which is flanked by the guest villas and the construction site for The Great House.
You can see the rebuild is well under way, but guests never see any construction materials or crew moving on, off or around the island. (We visited the site the following day, and we'll give you a tour in the upcoming days.)
This is the northern part of the island, which is pretty much desolate. There are no guest villas, but a few tucked-away beaches and bays to explore.
Here is an overview of some of the guest villas. At the very top, overlooking the island, is Temple House, where we had breakfast every day. On the very right are our villas with views to the east. And below is the staff village, which consists of about 10 yurts and a couple of smaller houses.
A view to the south. You can see part of the Beach House, a sand bar (those three palm trees are actually fake and are there to prevent boats from hitting the reef.) And the small mound directly across Necker is the 30-acre island Eustatia, owned by Google's Larry Page (There are reports that he may have sold the island, but from the locals still believe that he is the owner.)
Below is the staff village, and the big mound of rubble is from the old Great House and used for the rebuild. There is a helipad just between the rubble mound and the dock.
We kept seeing these big cacti with bright red pink berries on them. Orwin sacrificed himself and took a bite off one. Turns out the grayish goo inside is edible.
Below is the cage house for Richard Branson's pet project – breeding lemurs, primates endemic to the island of Madagascar. Lemurs are almost extinct and Branson is also planning to create a safe haven for them on nearby Mosquito Island, which he bought in 2007 for $30 million.
The lemurs are really friendly and inquisitive. The females are kept in the cage to manage breeding.
... two tennis courts, a nice hang-out area, and a spectacular dining room above that seats 40. (We had dinner there, and the setup and food were absolutely magical.)
Sea bream with couscous...paired with Rosé wine. (Although the 6-course dinner we had that night was delicious as well. Tough, I know.)
We are planning our next stop over dessert. On the right is Kenny Jones, the island co-manager, who taught Branson to kite-surf and set up the watersports shack when he first got to island as a watersports manager.
...and kite-surfing boards. (Unfortunately, the wind was not strong enough to go out kite-surfing during our 2-day stay.)
The turquoise Caribbean water surrounding the island is one of the best features of Necker. Lets go for a swim.
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