Necker Island

Reviewed for Holidays in Heels by Mary Pratt, luxury lifestyle blogger extraordinaire at The Caviar Spoon!

It all started with a girl. *dreamy sigh*

Back in 1978, Sir Richard Branson was presented with an opportunity to buy an island and since he was trying to win over a girl, it seemed like the right move to make. After a savvy deal of $180k, Branson found himself the owner of a beautiful piece of land. The one condition of the deal was that a resort needed to be built on the island within 4 years. This, of course, is the stunning Necker Island.


Note: This is NOT a painting


Despite the price tag (about 39,000 British pounds a night) and parade of celebs (think Ronnie Wood, Adrian Grenier, Natalie Imbruglia, and Kate Moss), this place isn’t about being waited on hand and foot by butlers who address you as sir and madam. Whether you call it barefoot luxury, a priceless paradise, or a slice of cloud nine living, when you stay on Necker, it’s simply as if Richard has swapped you his house keys for a cost and said: “ Make yourselves at home and have a hoot!”



Three flights, two hotel stays and plenty of gin & tonics later, we took a speedboat from St Thomas to the 74-acre island with its lush greenery and white sand beaches set against the brilliant blue of sky and sea.


From the dock, we hopped into buggies and drove up to the appropriately named Great House, which is the hub of the island. To top it all off, there were 2 Virgin staff waiting for us with a tray of champagne to welcome us“ home” . (These glasses of bubbly were just the first of many to come!)


Champagne greetings!


Sweet Suite

An open, airy Balinese villa, the Great House has 10 bedrooms, including a fabulously grand 1,500 sq. ft. master suite and a rooftop terrace spacious enough to seat up to 40 people for a meal. Scattered around the island are 8 private villas with names like “ Love Temple” and “ Bali Hi” which are equally luxurious and delectable (if not more so!).



My greeting party when I walked up to the villa was a family of tortoises and a Jurassic Park-esque iguana that seemed fairly unbothered by the new company.



The tortoises made it very clear that this was their house and we were just visiting—they crawled where and when they pleased, including over my foot at breakfast the next morning, which resulted in a near-freakout before I realised what it was!


Quick friends

Upon exploring my room a bit more, I discovered a handwritten note from the Virgin staff welcoming me to the island. The large four poster bed was draped with voile and every night, I slept with the balcony doors wide open and the gauzy material gently blowing around me with the island breeze. The early mornings saw me out on the balcony, lounging on a massive sun bed as I watched the birds and listened to the sounds of this blissful paradise. It was like a scene right out of a movie.


Time to relax


I had the BEST masseuse I’ve ever experienced (shout out to Hazel Ball!) whose technique was gold medal-worthy. And yet, later that evening, there was Hazel serving up champagne. The staff here have multiple roles, from personal tour guides (like David who zipped me around the island and also stood in as my personal photographer!) to sushi servers, sailing enthusiasts and tennis coaches, and they embody all of them with genuine enthusiasm.


Outdoor spa = ultimate relaxation



Even lunchtime came with a bit of whimsy and adventure. I found myself zip lining straight down to Turtle Beach from the Great House! Post-lunch on the beach, we swam out to a trampoline set in the ocean for an afternoon of bouncing around.


Mary works up an appetite on the way to lunch


The floating sushi bar at Crocodile Pavilion (lounge in the pool and grab a bite of sushi as it floats by!), practically every water sport you can imagine, or just lolling around on a hammock as you gaze out across the ocean… Here is a White Party dinner:




Wild Life

Whether you’re partying all night in the island’s dozens of jacuzzis or exploring wildlife, you’ll have stories to tell back home.  Necker Island is full of wildlife and the conservation efforts here are tremendous. Some of the creatures you’ll encounter are Aldabra Giant Tortoises, Scarlet and White Ibis, Rock iguanas (which can grow over 6 feet long!), Anegada iguanas (which are already extinct in the wild), and flamingos. The flamingos were once native to the BVIs and are now part of a breeding programme on Necker Island to help repopulate the Caribbean. You can’t miss them—there are about 430 of these guys!




Channel Mary’s beautiful, breezy island vibe with this fresh ensemble:




Bohemian style top
100 AED –

Melissa Odabash bikini beachwear
1,110 AED –

Jack Rogers leather flat shoes
435 AED –

Locket jewelry
11 AED –

Melissa odabash hat
795 AED –

Laura Ashley flamingo beach towel
91 AED –
Guest Post by Rupert Wright of Ashbright
Paris holds no terrors for well-heeled travellers, who can check into one of the city’s eleven palaces such as ­ the Georges V, Plaza Athénée, Le Bristol or my favourite, Le Meurice. But for those on any kind of budget, finding a decent place to stay in the French capital can be a challenge. Bedrooms smaller than a bathroom, bathrooms smaller than a bidet, we’ve all stayed at one of them and lived to regret it. So, it’s with great pleasure that I have found almost the perfect Parisian hotel – and you don’t need to be a tech billionaire to afford it. The Bedford has been family owned and run for more than a hundred years, combining Swiss roots, French flair and English tradition. It benefits from strong leadership, attention to detail, and a staff eager to look after you. With just 140 rooms, it is large enough to intimate, but not so large that you are anonymous. It’s a 4 star, but deserves more.
The rooms
Parquet flooring; high ceilings; comfortable beds and pillows; keys rather than plastic cards; and best of all, real switches, that turn the lights on and off. The Bedford has sensibly ignored many of the technical traps that can make staying in a hotel room more challenging than setting up your own satellite transmission site. The result is a place that combines understated elegance with modern touches and old school service. Some rooms overlook the rue de l’Arcade, others look over a courtyard, but all are a decent size and a muted colour. There is air-conditioning too, which is a relief when the summer strikes.
Breakfast is a buffet in a glorious belle époque room, boasting stucco reliefs and a glass roof. Dinner happens here too, French cuisine and fairly formal. There’s also a relaxed bistro/bar that serves meals and cocktails.
A stone’s throw from the Place de la Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens, and the Opera, this is one of the best areas to stay in Paris. (Marcel Proust used to live just around the corner). It is a lively area, with great boutiques, wine bars and an eclectic mix of restaurants, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Lebanese and French too.
Don’t miss
The Bedford knows that many people like to travel with their pets, so they are allowed to stay too.
HOTEL BEDFORD, 17, RUE DE L’ARCADE 75008 PARIS Tel. : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 77 Fax : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 97 More information at
Rooms from €250; Suites from €450


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Sara Hamdan

Welcome to a magazine editor’s guide to luxury hotels and what to wear when you’re there! My work has appeared in: The International New York Times, Rolling Stone, Variety and CNN Travel. I’ve held editorial roles at VIVA Magazine, Dubai Magazine and Stylist Arabia.  Now, I freelance for the likes of Google, CNN and Savoir Flair!

Editing travel pages was always my favourite part of working for lifestyle magazines. I started this blog out of a love of beautiful hotels that provide the fairytale escape of a day as a princess where breakfast is a buffet and chocolates appear on my pillow.

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