‘Welcome to Necker Island,’ says an all-too-familiar voice. Sir Richard Branson, arms outstretched and beaming, greets us warmly upon arrival at his home and private Caribbean hideaway.
Bedrooms are unlocked, laptops and guitars are left lying around and guests help themselves behind the bar. There’s no dress code for dinner: T-shirts and shorts will do just fine. This is a place where you can do laps of the Jacuzzi and where lunch is served by a smiling chef in a canoe in the beachside pool.
I take to the water with sailing instructor George, who recently taught Kate Winslet to kitesurf. She’s quite good, apparently. Back on Necker, I meet Vaman Ramlall, who looks after the island’s wildlife – giant iguanas and tortoises, squawking parrots and endangered lemurs.
All this doesn’t come cheap. Most of the year, Necker costs £39,000 per night split between 30 guests. For six weeks a year, however, it’s possible to book individual rooms at (slightly) cheaper rates.
With great reluctance, it’s soon time to leave. ‘It’s been great having you,’ Branson says as we board the speedboat and he waves us off with a smile (and a moonie).