Richard Branson Is Opening His Caribbean Private Island to the Public This Summer

Richard Branson owns three islands in the world. Getty Images

Betting that summer and holiday travel in 2021 will come back in full force in a post-pandemic world, British billionaire Richard Branson is opening one of his private islands in the Caribbean to the public this summer.

The 70-year-old founder of Virgin Group 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 (BVI). 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.

Branson’s own three-villa, 11-bedroom estate on the island is already accepting reservations. Rates begin at $2,000 per night in a standard double room. Booking four rooms start at $12,000, while reversing the entire villa cost $25,000 per night in summer months, and the rate goes up to $36,000 in Christmas.

With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out globally, the travel industry is expecting a busy summer. 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.

“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,” Chiporukha told Observer.

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 said.

Branson’s fortune is mostly tied to the various businesses and investments under Virgin Group. His net worth reached an all-time high of $7.3 billion in February 2020 just before the global coronavirus outbreak, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. 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. At press time, he’s worth $6.5 billion.

More villas on Moskito is set to open before Thanksgiving. The island is a favorite vacation spot of A-lister celebrities, including former U.S. President Barack Obama and the late Princess Diana.