Privacy and space are the most sought-after travel amenities right now, so it comes as no surprise that demand for private island getaways has skyrocketed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a strong supporter of the Virgin Limited Edition properties owned by Sir Richard Branson, Royal Travel had the privilege of a private stay at both Necker Island and Moskito Island, located in the British Virgin Islands.
Sir Richard Branson’s passion for the British Virgin Islands began in the late-1970’s, when he purchased the then-deserted, 74-acre Necker Island for the bargain price of $180,000. Initially, Necker served as the Branson family’s private retreat, but in 1984, Branson opened-up his home to guests and Necker quickly became one of the world’s most exclusive private island escapes, welcoming a long line of rich, famous and Royal guests.
A stay at Necker Island typically begins with a warm greeting at the arrival boat dock from the welcome team who are always sporting enormous smiles. You would honestly never know that these people were at work because they all seem so happy!
The Great House on Necker Island is situated on the highest point of the island and enjoys spectacular views of the Caribbean, the Atlantic and neighboring islands. In 2011, the Great House was struck by lightning and burned down, which took two years to rebuild. Then in 2017, Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean leaving the Great House (and most of Necker) uninhabitable. Following a two-year closure and then a global pandemic, Necker Island finally reopened in early 2021. The Great House features two new rooms bringing the total to 11 guestrooms and a bunkroom that sleeps up to six children. Each of the bedrooms has a balcony, ensuite bathroom and open walls, giving a 360-degree view.
In addition to the Great House, there are six private Bali Houses built in authentic Balinese style which can each accommodate two adults. The Bali Hi complex was also fully restored to its original grandeur with additions like an extended pool, outdoor lounge, and private plunge pools in each Bali House. Lastly, there is the Temple House which has two suites, Temple Master and Temple Sunrise. Temple House is positioned in the center of the island and boasts panoramic views and the same Balinese style found on the rest of the island. Rumor has it that the island’s villas were built from the proceeds of sales from Branson’s legendary UK record label, Virgin Records. When artists like the Rolling Stones and The Spice Girls went platinum, he used the money to expand Necker’s accommodation.
The days on Necker Island can be as active, or a peaceful as you wish. Watersports is what they’re known for and there’s no shortage of options. You can also schedule a boat tour of the BVIs, do some island hopping and grab an original “Painkiller” at the world famous, Soggy Dollar Bar. If you’re more of a land lover, you can choose from activities such as a guided island hike, tennis, Pilates and yoga, personal training, and a number of luxurious spa treatments. There is also a stunning array of wildlife on Necker Island, from lemurs to flamingos to giant tortoises!
Dining on Necker Island is an experience like no other and many of the chefs have received Michelin stars for their work prior to joining the Necker team. Lunch and dinner can be served in various locations around the island and can change daily based on the weather and guest schedules. Dining can be formal or informal, inside or outside, themed or traditional or a mixture of everything. Guests are asked prior to arrival what their preferences are and there is always a menu with a selection of dishes to choose from. The menu can vary greatly and included lots of fresh seafood, BBQ, Italian, Mediterranean, Thai and more.
In 2007, Branson acquired neighboring Moskito Island, which is located on 125-acres, just two miles from Necker Island. The lesser-known Moskito was developed as a real estate community with ten individual estate lots sold-to and developed-by private owners (including Branson himself). Accompanying these private luxury estates is access to a shared recreation area, a Beach House, infinity pool and bar, tennis pavilion, watersports center and multiple dining outlets. The Branson Estate on Moskito, which features a main house, two connected villas, pools, a private beach and a staff, can be reserved for exclusive use as can the other properties on the island.
In addition to the private estates and other amenities on Moskito Island, there are 90 acres of nature trails, an organic garden, and an orchard. The watersports pavilion also has an endless list of activities to choose from and the surrounding turquoise waters are perfect for Hobie cat sailing, kayaking, kitesurfing, snorkeling, stand-up paddle-boarding and more.
Royal Travel’s visit to Necker Island and Moskito Island were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that anyone who has the privilege of staying there understands. The stunning location, incredible staff and attention to detail are unmatched. Clients interested in experiencing Moskito Island, Necker island or other Virgin Limited properties should contact the Royal Travel team for further information.