Sir RICHARD BRAN­SON

A Lux­ury Prop­erty Em­pire

Upscale Living Magazine - - Feature - | By An­gela Sara West

Planes, trains and Vir­gin mo­biles… with out­stand­ing re­sorts around the globe, too, bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man, Richard Bran­son, has trans­formed our land­scapes and skies with his bound­less brand.

Bri­tain’s best-known en­tre­pre­neur talks to An­gela Sara West about how he loves his fa­vorite re­treat in Mal­lorca so much, he bought it twice!

Hav­ing clocked up five decades in busi­ness, Vir­gin’s ex­pan­sion has seen Richard Bran­son suc­cess­fully di­ver­sify in sec­tors from mu­sic and mo­biles, health care and health clubs, to trains and transat­lantic travel, cruise ships and space ships.

Multi-award-win­ning Richard has been knighted by Prince Charles at Buck­ing­ham Palace and starred in block­busters Casino Royale, Around the World in 80 Days and Su­per­man Re­turns, along with small-screen se­ries The Simp­sons, Friends and Bay­watch.

Bare­foot lux­ury at Bran­son’s Necker Is­land home

Off­screen, the white-sand beaches of Necker Is­land, lapped by turquoise wa­ter and stun­ning views of neigh­bor­ing is­lands, are where this ad­ven­tur­ous ty­coon usu­ally re­sides…

In 1978, Richard bought his 74-acre Caribbean re­treat in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands from Bri­tish aris­to­crat, Lord Cob­ham, to im­press his fu­ture wife, Joan. It marked the start of his lux­ury prop­erty port­fo­lio, Vir­gin Lim­ited Edi­tion, which now in­cludes a Swiss ski lodge, a Kenyan sa­fari camp and a kas­bah in Morocco’s At­las Moun­tains.

In 2013, Necker be­came Richard’s main res­i­dence. “I left Bri­tain for my love of the beautiful Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands and, in par­tic­u­lar, Necker Is­land. We’ve built our home there, a place where my fam­ily and I are able to truly re­lax. I’m so in­spired by this idyl­lic is­land par­adise’s beauty.”

Hav­ing trans­formed it into a multi-mil­lion­pound lux­ury re­sort, com­plete with a he­li­pad and lux­ury cata­ma­ran yacht, Necker is now one of the most ex­clu­sive re­treats in the world… The pri­vate is­land par­adise is a play­ground for Richard’s fa­mous friends and he has played host to a “who’s who” of Hol­ly­wood heavy­weights, rock stars, roy­als and ex-pres­i­dents there, in­clud­ing Robert De Niro, Demi Moore, Har­ri­son Ford, Kate Moss, Mick Jag­ger, Ge­orge Michael, Harry Styles, Mariah Carey, Princess Diana (with Princes Wil­liam and Harry in tow), The Duchess of Cam­bridge, and Barack and Michelle Obama.

Planes, flames & hur­ri­canes

But the busi­ness mag­nate’s abode has twice been dev­as­tated by Mother Na­ture…. The Great House was re­built fol­low­ing a fire caused by a light­ning strike dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Irene in 2011, with ac­tress Kate Winslet hero­ically res­cu­ing Richard’s 90-year-old mother, Eve.

Necker re­opened in 2013, 20-per­cent big­ger and bet­ter, but the main house was left un­in­hab­it­able again af­ter be­ing hit by Cat­e­gory-5 Hur­ri­cane Irma last year. “We felt the full force of the strong­est hur­ri­cane ever in the At­lantic Ocean,” says Richard, who rode out the storm in his wine cel­lar.

A long-stand­ing love af­fair with Mal­lorca

While it’s out of ac­tion, the Vir­gin boss has been en­joy­ing his pri­vately-owned col­lec­tion of award-win­ning lux­ury ho­tels and re­treats with Vir­gin Lim­ited Edi­tion around the world.

“Whilst Necker Is­land is be­ing re­built, I’ve had the plea­sure of spend­ing time at many of these prop­er­ties,” he tells me. And he’s been en­joy­ing a slice of Span­ish life at his newly-ren­o­vated gated Mal­lor­can es­tate, Son Bun­y­ola, on the is­land’s

north­west coast, more than ever. “Son Bun­y­ola is my fa­vorite Mal­lor­can re­treat. I try to visit as of­ten as I can.”

“Mal­lorca has al­ways held a spe­cial place in my heart, since I first vis­ited as a child.” But that love af­fair was marred with dis­putes with the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, who re­fused plan­ning per­mis­sion for the Bri­tish busi­ness­man to build a lux­ury bou­tique ho­tel at his spec­tac­u­lar Son Bun­y­ola, re­sult­ing in him sell­ing up in 2002, sell­ing his iconic ho­tel, La Res­i­den­cia, a Mecca for A-lis­ters, in­clud­ing Leonardo Caprio, Goldie Hawn and Michael Dou­glas, too.

Back in busi­ness in Bun­y­ola!

Fol­low­ing a change of heart and Richard’s re­al­iza­tion that he re­ally missed Mal­lorca, he says he couldn’t re­sist when the op­por­tu­nity arose to buy Bun­y­ola back lock stock for around £11m in 2015.

He aims to con­vert the es­tate into the very best eco-re­sort in Eu­rope. “Cen­tral to the es­tate is a finca build­ing dat­ing back to the 1800s, sur­rounded by vines, citrus fruit trees, al­monds and olive trees. It’s ab­so­lutely beautiful and I look for­ward to see­ing how plans progress!”

Sprawl­ing over 700 acres, the ex­pan­sive es­tate is part of a World Her­itage site. Richard cites nu­mer­ous rea­sons for choos­ing the area. “The north­west coast has al­ways been a lo­ca­tion for which I have great fond­ness. It has so much to of­fer... un­spoilt na­ture, pic­turesque vil­lages, top-class restau­rants and finca ho­tels and cul­ture. The re­gion is dom­i­nated by the Tra­muntana moun­tain range and its breath-tak­ing scenery, and is home to some of the most his­tor­i­cal and pic­turesque towns on the is­land. My son, Sam, even named his own daugh­ter Eva-Deià, in hon­our of the vil­lage of Deià, which is one of the most beautiful in the world.”

Haute his­toric homes

Over­look­ing 5km of breath-tak­ing coast­line, his prop­erty com­prises the his­toric Mal­lorquín manor house (the above-men­tioned finca) plus three coun­try houses which he has re­cently trans­formed into ul­tra-lux­ury vil­las, avail­able for ex­clu­sive hire. “We opened vil­las Sa Punta de S’Aguila and Sa Terra Rotja in sum­mer 2016, with Son Bala­gueret open­ing last sum­mer. We usu­ally stay in Sa Terra Rotja, our four-bed­room villa si­t­u­ated near the edge of the es­tate, but I’d be torn if I had to pick a fa­vorite out of the three.”

Each villa boasts a pri­vate pool plus a ded­i­cated concierge ser­vice via DEIA VIP to at­tend to ev­ery wish’n’whim. “Not to men­tion stun­ning views!”, adds Richard. “A stay at Son Bun­y­ola is not like any villa stay, and it is so much more than a place to rest your head! All guests are en­cour­aged to treat the vil­las like their own home from the mo­ment they ar­rive; we like to en­sure our guests feel spe­cial and re­ceive ex­cel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice, and aim to cre­ate a truly unique ex­pe­ri­ence.”

With a strong ethos of giv­ing back, the pro­lific phi­lan­thropist says Vir­gin Lim­ited Edi­tion’s re­cruit­ing pol­icy is to give back to sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties by of­fer­ing train­ing and em­ploy­ment. “We re­cruit lo­cally at Son Bun­y­ola, and source food and wine from right here in the re­gion. We work hard to pro­tect the beautiful land­scape we’re so for­tu­nate to oc­cupy. Our ap­proach in­cludes a com­mit­ment to re­spon­si­ble sup­ply chain man­age­ment, fair trade poli­cies, eth­i­cal deal­ings with our em­ploy­ees and the lo­cal com­mu­nity, and, of course, the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Balearic play­time

His fa­vorite things to do on the is­land? “That’s the beauty of Mal­lorca… there’s so much to do and some­thing for ev­ery­one; even if it’s just pick­ing a great sun lounger and sun­bathing. I’m a bit of an adren­a­line junkie, so I must have a way to stay ac­tive and ad­ven­tur­ous, and Mal­lorca is great

for hik­ing and cy­cling. I’d also rec­om­mend set­ting sail and ex­plor­ing the coast­line of Tra­muntana where you’ll find some great spots for snor­kel­ing and the chance to dis­cover some hid­den caves. With clear Mediter­ranean wa­ters, the area is per­fect for scuba div­ing and fish­ing ex­cur­sions, too.”

The magic of Mal­lorca

With dra­matic scenery of ver­dant coun­try­side against a back­drop of magnificent moun­tains and cobalt blue wa­ter, this Span­ish is­land is noth­ing less than spec­tac­u­lar. “Mal­lorca is so spe­cial to me be­cause it pro­vides the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment to re­lax, laugh, learn and love with my fam­ily.” Now he has grand­kids, Richard says he en­joys be­ing able to spend more time in a place that means a great deal to them all.

“My fa­vorite me­mories are the most sim­ple; sit­ting around the table talk­ing, ad­mir­ing the scenery and en­joy­ing meals and good com­pany. We’ve had a spe­cial bond with the is­land for sev­eral gen­er­a­tions, and I’m sure it will go on for gen­er­a­tions to come!”

The vil­las at Son Bun­y­ola - Sa Punta de S’Aguila, Sa Terra Rotja and Son Bala­gueret – are avail­able for ex­clu­sive hire from March to mid-Novem­ber, and on re­quest over the Christ­mas and New Year pe­ri­ods.

Un­til 28th Oc­to­ber 2018, guests book­ing a stay of seven nights or more will en­joy their fi­nal night for free! For fur­ther de­tails, visit: www.vir­gin­lim­it­ededi­tion.com

DEIA VIP concierge ser­vices: http://Deiavip.com

Find out more at: www.vir­gin.com

Left: vil­las Sa Punta de S’Aguila Top Right: vil­las Sa Punta de S’Aguila ter­race in Mal­lorca, Spain

Top Left: En­trance to the Son Bala­gueret villa. Bot­tom

Left: Lounge room in Son Bala­gueret villa. Top Right: out­door lounge. Bot­tom Right: Out­door lunch at Son Bala­gueret villa in Mal­lorca.

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