With summer holiday travel set to return to full force post-pandemic, British billionaire Richard Branson is set to open one of his private islands in the Caribbean to the public this summer.
The 70-year-old Virgin Group founder owns three islands, two in the Caribbean and one in Australia. The island he’s going to open to the public is Moskito Island, a 125-acre property just two miles away from Necker Island, a 30-hectare property which Branson famously bought in 1978 at the age of 29.
Both islands are part of the British Virgin Islands. Branson bought Moskito in 2007 and ordered a renovation project starting 2010. The island is made up of a collection of luxury private villas which can be rented by guests looking for the ultimate island hideaway with exceptional service, just like you’d expect from a five-star hotel, according to the private island’s website. His own three-villa, 11-bedroom estate on the island is already accepting reservations.
With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out globally, the travel industry is expecting a busysummer. In fact, demand for luxury vacation experience is higher than ever as the “screw you 2020” mentality sets in, said Roman Chiporukha, cofounder of Roman & Erica, a New York-based luxury lifestyle and travel management firm.
Chiporukha said: “People are looking for different and unforgettable experiences. The bystander vacation is no longer an option or a want for our members, and they are racing to book private islands, villas, and yachts without hesitation to avoid losing the property to another.” Roman & Erica serves an exclusive clientele who pay an annual membership fee ranging from $62,500 to $180,000 for arranging vacation, travel, kids’ birthday parties and other lifestyle events.
“Our member base are seeking a disconnect from the conventional vacation that exclusive private islands can provide. These exclusive properties bring forth the opportunity for a robust getaway while avoiding flooded tourist traps,” Chiporukha continued.
According to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, Branson’s net worth reached an all-time high of $7.3 billion in 2020 just before the global coronavirus outbreak. He lost a third of his fortune, on paper, last summer as Virgin Group grappled with pandemic-related losses. However, thanks to a booming stock market in the second half of 2020, Branson’s net worth quickly recovered to over $7 billion by February 2021. He is said to be worth $6.5 billion.
Moskito is a favourite vacation spot of A-lister celebrities, including former U.S. President Barack Obama and the late Princess Diana amongst others.