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Necker Island: Richard Branson's Private Island

Extra Virgin Necker Island

by Alain Gayot

Aerial view of Necker Island, privately owned by Sir Richard Branson
Aerial view of Necker Island

A Stay at Necker Island

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 and czars of rock 'n roll.

Branson's island empire operates like a resort, but you must book the entire palace, which can accommodate a total of 30 courtiers and an additional six children. You could say this is the experience of a lifetime, but some — who have done it once already — are compelled to return for more of the bliss that is life on Necker Island. Accommodations consist of the Great House (which was recently rebuilt after a fire destroyed it) and six Bali Houses, featuring furniture that was designed and built in Bali, disassembled, shipped over and reassembled in the Caribbean. The cottages share a plunge pool or private infinity pool, and for all there are 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.

Necker Island's beach pavilion at night A bedroom in Bali Kukila house
Beach pavilion
Bali Kukila house

When we were here, the resort turned out amazing dishes, considering the limited resources and isolation of the property, and said 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 wild mushroom raviolis 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. At all times, however, the staff is there to wait on your every regal whim, feed you, baby you, fan you or leave you entirely alone. So pack your bags, pick 30 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 $62,000 per night check.

Note: On selected weeks during the year, Necker Island hosts "celebration weeks" where the island operates hotel-style, and guests can book individual rooms instead of having to reserve the entire island.

How to Get There:
Necker Island is situated in the British Virgin Islands. The nearest islands are Virgin Gorda (ten minutes by boat) and Beef Island/Tortola (30 minutes by boat). From Beef Island, guests are collected by the resort's high-speed boats (before sundown), unless guests prefer to travel by helicopter directly to Necker. If you fly into Barbados or St. Lucia, there are currently no connections that can be made on the same day to Tortola. You will have to wait overnight and catch a morning flight, unless you choose to charter your own small plane.

Necker Island
British Virgin Islands

Going to The Caribbean? Check out our guide

(Updated: 09/16/13 CT)

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