By Hope Gainer
A tiny slice of Heaven-on-Earth, Necker Island is Sir Richard Branson’s favorite hideaway consisting of 74 acres sitting on turquoise waters surrounded by coral reefs and fringed with sandy white beaches in the British Virgin Islands. He first purchased it in 1978 and opened it as a luxury retreat for private hire in 1984, accommodating up to 28 guests. Thrill-seeking adventurers who visit Necker Island enjoy windsurfing, kite boarding, paddle boarding, snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing, beach volleyball or just simply relaxing and admiring one of the many spectacular vistas. [print_gllr id=2346] Branson married his wife, Joan, on Turtle Beach, arriving to the ceremony by helicopter. Today, the island is available for private weddings, as well. There is a fabulous, dedicated staff on the island, which is home to more than 200 flamingos who are all part of the Necker family. Your Own Private Island Sanctuary To enjoy Necker Island as your very own private sanctuary, book the island in its entirety. However, Branson has created what he calls “Celebration Weeks” when couples or singles can book individual rooms and share the island ‘house party’ style. There are six Bali Houses, each with one bedroom plus the Temple House, Branson’s personal home with one master bedroom, and a separate house called the Love Temple. Combined, the captivating resort can accommodate eight, all with en-suite bathrooms. Necker Belle, Branson’s luxurious catamaran with four cabins, is also available for guest stays. Limited Edition Necker Island is now part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition, his portfolio of unique retreats. They include Ulusaba Private Game Preserve, Kasbah Tamadot Moroccan Retreat, The Roof Gardens in London, The Lodge in Verbier, Mahali Mzuri Kenyan Safari Camp, Makepeace Island in Australia, Necker Belle Catamaran and Necker Nymph Submarine. “We’ve never run our properties like a hotel. We run them like you’re coming to somebody’s home,” said Richard Branson. For more information: www.neckerisland.virgin.com & www.virginlimitededition.com
Inaugural Necker Island Tennis Cup
Imagine starring in a doubles tennis tournament on Sir Richard Branson’s private island with legendary tennis players, enjoying idyllic paradise settings, gourmet meals, endless beach activities, nightly parties and being spoiled by a 60-person staff catering to your every need! That, my friend, is the Necker Cup. The inaugural event was Dec. 9-13, 2012 and will rollout again in 2013 due to Branson’s delight, so stay tuned! “Necker Island is my home and favorite hideaway and as a huge fan of tennis I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to have Necker host this unique tennis experience. The Necker Cup was an amazing success and incredible fun for everyone involved; it’s something we hope to do again this year,” said Sir Richard Branson. The inaugural event was a scintillating success. Tennis pros and amateur international billionaires alike experienced the extravagance of a lifetime – one that money cannot buy. A handicapped scoring format was used to make it competitive for all levels. Branson opened his private island for the Necker Cup and also hosted a Virgin Unite Leadership retreat at his Temple House with guest speakers Jose Maria Figueres, former Costa Rican president, and Sylvia Alice Earle, first recipient of the Time Magazine Hero for the Planet and Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society. The Necker Cup benefited Virgin Unite, a non-profit of the Virgin Group that unites people and entrepreneurial ideas, as well as the National Tennis Foundation, which helps gifted tennis athletes regardless of race or economic means.