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 like a resort and can accommodate up to 28 guests.
The island was named after the 17th-century Dutch squadron commander Johannes de Neckere, although it remained uninhabited until the late 20th century.
In 1965 the photographer Don McCullin and the journalist Andrew Alexander, spent fourteen 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: "It was inhabited by snakes, scorpions and tarantulas ... The mosquitos and other insects were more venomous and persistent than any I had encountered in Vietnam or the Congo."
Richard Branson first became aware that some of the islands in the British Virgin Islands were for sale in 1978; a natural interest given the name of his company, Virgin Group. He promptly went to the islands for a holiday and to investigate the prospective real estate. On first observing the islands, he envisioned using them to put up rock stars for his Virgin 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 $150,000 for the $6 million island (due to his relatively modest funds at that time in his career), he was turned down and evicted from the island. A while later, the owner, Lord Cobham, in need of short-term capital, eventually settled for $180,000 after Branson had offered his final price of $175,000 three months before the actual sale took place. However, the government imposed a relatively common restriction on alien landholders: that the new owner had to develop a resort within five years or the island would revert to the state. Branson committed, determined to build a resort on his tropical dream island.
When Branson bought the 74-acre island, it was uninhabited. He purchased the island at the age of 28, just six years after starting Virgin Group. It took 3 years and approximately US$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 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 30 people and rents out at US$65,000 a day, US$2,167 per person a day. Minus labour expenses the cost of the entire island could be recouped in a mere 4 months. The cost of staying includes two "private" beaches, private pools, tennis courts, scenic views, a personal chef, a team of about 100 staff and a wide array of water sports equipment. Babysitting is not included.
In the early hours of Monday 22 August 2011, The Great House, as it was called, 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 20 guests, with Branson himself staying in a residence nearby. All 20 of the guests escaped unhurt from the burning house, which according to Branson was totally destroyed. Among the 20 occupants were actress Kate Winslet, along with Branson's 90-year-old mother Eve and his 29-year-old daughter Holly. The Great House has now been rebuilt with the Great Room expanded on and in a style strongly reminiscent of that lost to the fire.
The Necker Cup, an exhibition tennis tournament held at the end of the tennis season, has been held on the island annually since 2012.
Privacy and access
Although the land on the island is entirely privately owned, under British Virgin Islands law, all beaches up to the high-water mark are Crown land, and are open to the public.
- "Virgin Islands: How do you like your paradise?". Telegraph. 18 January 2001. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/centralamericaandcaribbean/britishvirginislands/716920/Virgin-Islands-How-do-you-like-your-paradise.html. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- Don McCullin (2002). Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-09-943776-5.
- ["http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/a-gorgeous-girl-named-joan-a-virgin-island-an-unacceptable-offer" "an unacceptable offer"]. "http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/a-gorgeous-girl-named-joan-a-virgin-island-an-unacceptable-offer".
- Richard Branson's treasure island where world's richest celebrities holiday, CNN, 2014-08-21. accessed 2015-05-15.
- Necker Island prices, accessed 2015-05-15.
- "Twenty people escape fire at Branson's holiday home". BBC. 22 August 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14616123. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- 2013 Necker Cup Pro-Am Tennis Tournament by Premier Tennis Travel, 2013 Necker Cup, the world's most exclusive Pro-Am tennis event
|The British Virgin Islands|
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