Necker lsland


Necker Island

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Necker 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 per night.

The island was named after the 17th century Dutch squadron commander, Johannes de Neckere, although it remained uninhabited until the late 20th century.

Don 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.

Sir 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.

When 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.

Numerous 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.

When 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.


Necker Island
(Credit: Network Nine 'Getaway')

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The 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 trees.

Necker 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.

Eleven 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.

Necker 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.

Its 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.

Sir 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.

The 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.

At breakfast each morning, staff ask guests what they would like to do for the day.

The 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.

All 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.

The 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.

Excursions 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.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
More information
Limited Edition by Virgin
Voyager House
5 The Lanchesters
162-164 Fulham Palace Road
London W6 9ER
Ph: 44 (0)20 8600 0430
Fax: 44 (0) 20 8600 0431



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