Necker Island (British Virgin Islands)
|Area||30 ha (74 acres)|
|British Overseas Territory||British Virgin Islands|
|Official website||Necker Island|
Necker Island is a 30-hectare (74-acre) island in the British Virgin Islands just north of Virgin Gorda. The island is entirely owned by Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, and is part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio of luxury properties. The whole island operates as a resort and can accommodate up to 30 guests, with additional room for six children.
Necker Island is located at latitude 18.55 north and longitude 64.35 west in the eastern section of the British Virgin Islands. It is about 5.9 kilometres (3.7 mi) north of Virgin Gorda and north-east of Prickly Pear Island and also Mosquito Island (sometimes spelled Moskito Island), which is also owned by Branson. The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a group of islands about 1,815 kilometres (1,128 mi) south-east of Miami, Florida, 184 km (114 mi) due east of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and about 175 km (109 mi) north-west of St. Barts.
The island was named after the 17th-century Dutch squadron commander Jonathan de Neckere. It remained uninhabited until the late 20th century.
In 1965, the photographer Don McCullin and journalist Andrew Alexander, spent 15 days on the island at the behest of The Daily Telegraph newspaper for which they worked. The magazine editor had hoped that they would survive their castaway adventure for at least three weeks, but as McCullin later recounted, "because of our gathering weakness ... out of temper, and out of water, we hoisted the red flag and were taken off in the early hours of the fifteenth day". According to McCullin, there was nothing idyllic about the desert island: "The mosquitos and other insects were more venomous and persistent than any I had encountered in Vietnam or the Congo."
Richard Branson's Extreme Tech Challenge has been hosted annually at Necker Island since 2015. Described as one of the largest technology competitions in the world, the challenge begins at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with the top 10 new innovations progressing to the finals at Necker Island where Branson joins the judging panel along with technology figures and investors from Silicon Valley.
The Necker Cup, an exhibition tennis tournament held at the end of the tennis season, has been held on the island annually since 2012.
On 22 August 2011, The Great House burned down in a blaze believed to be caused by lightning from Tropical Storm Irene. At the time the house was occupied by as many as twenty guests, with Branson himself staying in a residence nearby. All of the guests escaped unhurt from the burning house, which was totally destroyed. Among the twenty occupants were actress Kate Winslet, Branson's 87-year-old mother Eve and his 29-year-old daughter Holly. The Great House was subsequently rebuilt with an expanded Great Room.
On 6 September 2017, Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane, made landfall on Necker Island destroying most of the island. Branson was quoted as saying "I have never seen anything like this hurricane. Necker and the whole area have been completely and utterly devastated". By April 2018, most of the damaged structures had been rebuilt.
Land ownership by Richard Branson
Richard Branson was made aware that some of the islands in the British Virgin Islands were for sale in 1978. Branson soon after went to the British Virgin Islands for a holiday to investigate the prospective real estate. On first observing the islands, he envisioned using them to put up rock stars for his record label. Upon arrival, they were 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, decided to purchase the island. After making a lowball bid of $100,000 for the island (due to his relatively modest funds at that time in his career), he was turned down and escorted back to the mainland. A year later, the owner, John Lyttelton, 11th Viscount Cobham, in need of short-term capital, eventually settled for $120,000.[a] However, the government imposed a restriction on alien landholders: that the new owner had to develop a resort within four years or the island would revert to the state. Branson committed to building a resort on the island.
When Branson bought the island, it was uninhabited. He purchased the island at the age of 28, just six years after starting Virgin Group. It took three years and some $10 million to turn it into a private island retreat. Using local stone, Brazilian hardwoods, Asian antiques, Indian rugs, art pieces and fabrics and bamboo furniture from Bali, architects and designers created a ten-bedroom Balinese-style villa at the top of a hill above the beach. Each of the ten bedrooms has open walls, giving a 360-degree view. The island has accommodation for 40 people and rents out in total at US$102,500 per day. The cost of staying includes access to two beaches, private pools, tennis courts, scenic views, a personal chef, a team of about 100 staff and a wide array of water sports equipment.
Privacy and access
- Margie Goldsmith (9 December 2013). "Where to vacation when you win the lottery". The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
Sir Richard Branson looks out at the glittering turquoise sea from a terrace of the Great House on Necker Island, his 30-hectare private paradise in the British Virgin Islands.
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