Entries in Richard Branson (5)


For 60K per Night, Richard Branson’s Island Can Be Yours Again

courtesy Necker Island(NECKER ISLAND, British Virgin Islands) -- Necker Island, Virgin founder Richard Branson’s private escape in the British Virgin Islands has been an escape of the (very) rich and (sometimes) famous for some time. But a fire in August 2011 burned the main house to the ground.

Branson said at the time the “nightmare” reminded him of the movie Mandalay.

In fact, a famous actress played the heroine in this real-life drama that night. Kate Winslet was credited with saving Branson’s mother’s life.

But good news! The renovation of the Great House is nearly complete and it will be open for guests once again in September 2013.

Each of the eight Great House guest rooms has a balcony, and all come with king-size beds and en-suite bathrooms.

On the upper level is the master suite, which is a whopping 1,500 square feet with panoramic views from virtually every angle. It includes a two-person Jacuzzi, a stand-alone outdoor bath and a kitchenette area with a fully-stocked fridge.

“The brand new Great House is the heart of the island and I am thrilled with the results so far. The opening of the Great House in September signals a new dawn for Necker which I’m very excited about,” said Branson.

For exclusive-use bookings, accommodation on Necker Island includes the Great House and six individual Bali Houses dotted around the island. There’s also a bunk room in the Great House that sleeps as many as six children. The total number of guests that can be accommodated on Necker Island is 30, plus six children in the bunk room, at a nightly rate of $60,000.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Kate Winslet Receives Ticket to Space

MICHAEL GOTTSCHALK/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Kate Winslet will blast off to space thanks to a $200,000 ticket gifted to the actress from Sir Richard Branson.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the actress, who recently married Branson’s nephew Ned RocknRoll, received the out-of-this-world ticket from Branson as a thank you for rescuing his mother from a fire last year.  Winslet, who became a household name after her character survived the Titanic, became a hero when she rescued Branson’s then-90-year-old mother from a 4 a.m. fire at the private residence the businessman owns on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.

As a thank you, Winslet will head to outer space.

According to the Virgin website, Winslet can look forward to “a brief moment of quiet before a wave of unimaginable but controlled power surges” during her journey in the Virgin Galactic shuttle.  That’s before being “instantly pinned back into your seat, overwhelmed but enthralled by the howl of the rocket motor and the eye- watering acceleration which, as you watch the read-out, has you traveling in a matter of seconds, at almost 2500 mph, over 3 times the speed of sound.”

Winslet’s new husband is reportedly a part-time employee of Virgin Galactic, and it’s unclear if he’ll be joining her for the ride into space.  Virgin Galactic, which plans to start flights next year, has already sold 530 tickets for £124,000 each; such people as Russell Brand, Ashton Kutcher and science genius Stephen Hawking are slated to go into low earth orbit.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ashton Kutcher Signs Up for Space Flight

Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Ashton Kutcher is headed to infinity and beyond.  Or something like that.

British mogul Richard Branson announced Monday on his blog that the Two and a Half Men actor is the 500th customer to book a spot on one of his Virgin Galactic airline flights.  Virgin Galactic promises to become the first commercial airline to provide suborbital spaceflights.

Branson wrote on his blog, "I gave Ashton a quick call to congratulate and welcome him.  He is as thrilled as we are at the prospect of being among the first to cross the final frontier (and back!) with us and to experience the magic of space for himself."

The flight does not come cheap -- a ticket costs $200,000.  Commercial service isn't expected to begin until 2013 or 2014. 

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Katy Perry are among the other celebrities who've reportedly signed up for a flight.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wild Parties, Nude Models on Richard Branson's Island Paradise

Don Arnold/WireImage(LONDON) -- Richard Branson's Necker Island may have looked like the set of Titanic: Revenge of the Land earlier this week, when lightning set his $70 million home on fire and Kate Winslet scored heroine status by swooping Branson's 90-year-old mother out of the blaze.

Normally, the scene on the billionaire's private paradise in the Atlantic looks more like Animal House. According to the UK's Daily Mail, Branson, 61, recently bid a female guest adieu by dropping his pants and baring his rear end as she zipped by in a speedboat. The billionaire Virgin chairman famously arrived at his 1989 Necker Island wedding clinging to the bottom of a helicopter.

Models reportedly frolic with pink flamingos and giant tortoises in the nude. Last call doesn't exist. When you run the island, there are no rules.

"It's a lot of fun and nonstop partying," Tami Watkins, who stayed at Necker Island 15 years ago, told ABC News. "Just about anything goes."

But along with the shenanigans, there's unparalleled style and service. Another guest who visited the island in the 1990s told ABC News that the $20,000-per-night price tag paid for "paradise." More than a dozen chefs on staff can cook anything guests desire, and they're briefed on visitors' likes and dislikes before they arrive. Balinese wood and white upholstery lend the place the feel of an Asian oasis. Sixty staff members ensure every need gets met.

Branson bought the uninhabited British Virgin island in 1978 for a reported 180,000 pounds. He commissioned the construction of the "Great House," whose roof burned down Monday, and guest cottages and opened the island as a resort in 1984. In total, 28 people can stay at a time (that's more than a two-to-one ratio of staff to guests), and Branson reportedly spends at least two of the summer months there. When he's not around, those who wish to buy out the place can do so for $56,000 a night.

Monday's fire put a stop to the perpetual party -- for now. On Tuesday, Branson told ABC's Good Morning America that he's determined to rebuild the island's main house in time for his daughter's December wedding.

"It's one of those stories that's ended up happily," he said. "We will rebuild the house and make it even better than it was before and we'll have many more wonderful memories of the future."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kate Winslet Escapes Fire in Richard Branson's Private Mansion

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage(NECKER ISLAND, British Virgin Islands) -- Kate Winslet's character in Titanic barely survived an iceberg, and now the Oscar-winning actress has successfully acted the hero in a fire that ravaged Virgin Group mogul Richard Branson's private island residence in the British Virgin Islands.

Branson credited Winslet with saving his 90-year old mother, Eve, from the house fire.

"My mum is 90 and can walk, but it was more just to speed the process up than anything else. But anyway, she was great. She swept her up into her arms and got them out of the house as fast as possible," Branson told Britain's The Telegraph.

"Talking to her, she said it's like being in a film set where you're waiting for the words 'cut' but they just don't come. So it was quite surreal for her to be in a real-life situation."

Winslet, 35, was among the 20 guests who was staying in Branson's fourteen-bedroom "Great House" on the exclusive resort when the fire broke out around 4:00 a.m.

She had been staying at the luxury compound with her daughter Mia, 10, and son Joe, 7, as personal guests of Branson's, Ericka Souter, a staff writer at Us Weekly, told ABC News.

Each of the 20 houseguests staying at the complex were able to leave the burning house in safety, Branson said.

The exact cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is believed to have been caused by a lightning storm due to Hurricane Irene, with winds of about 80 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Branson was staying with his wife, Joan and son, Sam, in one of the five smaller Balinese-style villas that dot the island when the fire broke out.

"I have lost thousands of photographs and my notebooks, which is very sad. But all family and friends are well -- which, in the end, is all that really matters," wrote the tycoon in a blog post on his website.

Branson said he intends to stay on the island and rebuild the house as soon as possible. "We have a wonderful staff here and we want them to stay in work. We'll all stay here. There's a lot of damage but we'll create something even more special out of the ruins," he wrote.

Sir Richard Branson has owned the idyllic property, located in the British Virgin Islands, since 1978. The previously uninhabited island has since been developed to include a number of private villas, in addition to a main house, which can accommodate up to 28 guests at a time.

The ultra-exclusive Caribbean retreat is a long-standing favorite of Hollywood starlets, rock icons and heiresses of every stripe.

The celebrity haven -- which was the locale of the 2010 Victoria's Secret Catalogue shoot -- has also hosted Victoria and David Beckham (who reportedly celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on its private beaches), media magnate Oprah Winfrey, and leading men Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford, to name just a few.

A night at the resort can be had for about $47,000-a-day complete with access to the staff of 60 (more than two staff members for each guest), as well as endless food, drink and resort activities.

Regardless of the hefty price tag, "It's one of the most sought-after after Hollywood destinations," said Souter. "It's not like going to Jamaica -- it's secluded, it's beautiful and private -- it really is the perfect experience for a celebrity who wants to enjoy the sunshine and seclusion."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio