My Private Island: Richard Branson's Necker Island
Richard Branson first visited Necker Island in 1978, while trying to impress his future wife. Before then, Branson hadn't even heard of the British Virgin Islands and was drawn to the fact the chain had the same name as his company, Virgin Group.
Branson and the object of his affection took a helicopter tour, but were left stranded without a ride home after he offered $100k for the $6M island. Virgin Group was still a budding company at the time, and Branson wasn't rolling in dough like he is now.
Well, ask and you shall receive. A year later—when the island still hadn't received any offers and with the owner desperate to sell—Branson purchased the island for $180k. The caveat was that he needed to build a resort on the island in the next four years.
Today Necker Island is worth a reported $100M, and it's available to you and 33 of your closest friends and family exclusively year-round. Individual rooms are available during select weeks called "celebration weeks."
The 74-acre island, which was featured in a 150-page book called A Virgin Island by celebrity photographer Russell James, has several Balinese style villas, with trails and beaches all around. You can even feed the wildlife, which includes lemurs, flamingos, scarlet and white ibis, giant tortoises and six-foot-long iguanas.
But don't take it from us, take it from a few of the guests who have stayed there, like Kate Winslet, Eddie Murphy, Geena Davis, Kate Moss, Robert De Niro, Larry Page, Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, Nelson Mandela and Princess Di.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy on the island. Guests can go snorkeling at the reef, have a sailing race around the island followed by a picnic or barbecue at Turtle Beach, nibble at a floating sushi bar, drink cocktails in the Main House, and enjoy a candlelit dinner by a large bonfire on Bali Hi beach.
Other activities include kite surfing, water skiing and wakeboarding, sailing, wind surfing, paddle boarding, scuba diving, zip lining, swimming, tennis, Pilates and spa treatments. You can also host all kinds of parties and tour the rest of the BVI's on a cruise.
And just like Branson married his wife on the island, guests can have their nuptials in the beautiful Caribbean locale, as well. The cost to rent the entire island? About $60k/night. Safe to say the $180k purchase price was a great investment.