Lesson 3 - Travelling

January 6, 2016

 At 73 acres of pure paradise, Necker is one of the British Virgin Islands and for Sir Richard Branson, founder and CEO of the Virgin group, it's the place he calls home.

Richard Branson: Welcome to The Great House!
Journalist: Thank you!

From this location point you can see the entire island. Tucked right behind me is Richard's private residence. Right down there, a flamingo pond  - home to some 200 birds, and over there - a lemur sanctuary.

Branson bought Necker island in 1978. It was on the market for three million pounds, but in true Branson style, he managed to get it for just 150,000.

Richard Branson: The best way to negotiate is when you don't have any money - and I thought I could scrape together maybe a hundred thousand.

He since built Necker into a kind of playground for himself and his guests. But thirty years after building his utopia from the ground up, a single strike of lightning burnt it all down.

Richard Branson: There it hit, right into... right into the middle of the house. It was the most horrible, stomach-churning feeling ever.

The island's main structure called The Great House caught fire with Branson's family inside. Richard and his wife watched from their private residence, 200 yards away.

Richard Branson: Looking up at The Great House, seeing 300-foot flames coming out of it, the roof above us, knowing that one's mother, one's daughter, your... one's nephews and nieces and all the closest people to you were in the house and not knowing whether they were safe... you just wanted to... get into the house...

Journalist: And everybody'd gone out.

Richard Branson: Yeah, and everybody was fine.

Twenty-five months and seventeen million dollars later The Great House was back - and 20% bigger.

Richard Branson:  Everything about the house is a bit like... it's the old house but on the stairs..., as somebody described it. It feels like... the most beautiful home in the whole wide world!

... A home you and thirty of your friends can rent for 60,000 dollars a night. The island is all yours and the staff of 100 is ready to keep you entertained - with tennis, feeding endangered lemurs from Madagascar, or on a field trip down the zip line.

That 60K a night works out to twenty-five hundred dollars an hour on Necker. So, rain or shine, you've got to hit the water!

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