Following the December 1, 2020 re-opening of the Virgin Islands' tourism sector to international travel, and the interest in private islands stronger than ever, a clear picture has emerged of why Branson spent so much of his own time on these tropical havens according to Yahoo Lifestyle.
The private Necker Island was acquired after Branson fell in love with the piece of real estate in the late 1970s and purchased the then-deserted 74-acre island for a reported $180,000.
“For years, it served as a Branson family private retreat—Richard and his wife, Joan, were married there—before the main house and a few nearby villas became available to book on a buy-out basis. The Bransons maintained private villas on the island, however, and were there when a fire tore through the place in 2011, and again when Hurricane Irma all but levelled it in 2017,” reports Yahoo Lifestyle.
The final of the post-Irma construction and renovation was nearing completion in April 2020 when COVID-19 shut down travel to the island marking another blow to local tourism and making the December 2020 re-opening the first time in years that Necker Island can be experienced in full.
Standouts include the brand-new Bali Hi villa complex, two additional guest rooms and the installation of three wind turbines, furthering the island’s commitment toward sustainability and renewable energy.
Over on Moskito which was purchased in 2007, the 125-acre island was developed as a real estate community, with the individual lots sold to and developed by private owners, many of whom were invited by Branson himself.
With the VI’s relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions this month and tourism re-opened to masses willing to follow the territory’s strict policies, guests can now reserve exclusive use of the estates.
Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) reached out to local tourism officials including Chairman of the BVITB, Mrs Kenisha A. Sprauve and Director of Tourism, Mr Clive McCoy for comments on what the re-opening means for the territory’s recovering tourism sector, however, no responses were received up to publication time.
Necker Island is currently available to buy-out for up to 40 guests, including all meals and drinks, water sports, kids’ activities, and more; rates start at $105,000 per night and during select “celebration weeks” throughout the year, rooms can be booked individually, at rates starting at $5,000 per night.
Villas on Moskito Island are currently available to book for rates starting at $33,000 per night (for 11 bedrooms) or $12,000 per night (for four bedrooms), and includes meals, activities and staff, with safety measures in place and access to 24/7 medical support.