This 74-acre private island paradise hosts celebrities, royalty and even a US president.
Extra Virgin … it’s the kind of oil the chef pours on island preparations here, and it’s the kind of service that "King" Richard delivers on his (virtually) deserted island. The king we’re referring to is the founder of Virgin Entertainment, Sir Richard Branson. Ever since he decided to share his private island paradise, he’s been in good company. Royals who have visited his kingdom include England’s late Princess of Wales; additional guests of regal standing include movie monarchs, czars of rock ‘n roll and former U.S. president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle — this is where the famous kite-surfing photo was taken.
Branson’s island empire operates like a resort, but you must book the entire palace, which can accommodate a total of 34 courtiers. You could say this is the experience of a lifetime, but some — who have done it once — are compelled to return for more of the bliss that is life on Necker Island.
Accommodations consist of the Great House and eight individual Bali Houses, which were designed and built in Bali, disassembled, shipped over and reassembled in the Caribbean. Each of the houses comes with its own swimming pool, which complements endless stretches of sandy beach, surrounded by coral reefs. If you need a rest from the sun, the bar is always open, movies are played on a giant-screen TV, a library offers a quiet place to read and there is an excellent dining room.
When we were here, the resort turned out amazing dishes, considering the limited resources and isolation of the property, and dishes were accompanied by carefully selected, premium wines. A salad of duck foie gras with lentils and crispy beetroot came with 1985 La Grande Dame Veuve Clicquot, and raviolis of wild mushrooms were served with a 1990 Corton-Charlemagne Joseph Drouhin. The chef also crafted some mean desserts to top it all off.
Once on Necker, the island belongs to you. All you have to do now is choose between tennis, snorkeling, hiking, swimming, sailing or simply soaking up the sun. Off-island activities include scuba diving and exploring neighboring islands. Not to mention the beautiful wildlife you'll see and can even feed if you choose to arrange it beforehand.
At all times, however, the staff is there to wait on your every regal whim, to feed you, baby you, fan you or leave you entirely alone. So pack your bags, pick 33 members of your royal court or one very special Vizier, and come indulge in royal luxury, island style … oh yes, and don't forget to grab a gold bar or two from the castle vault so you can settle the check.