It was just over two years ago that Kate Winslet made headlines around the world for her heroic effort to save Richard Branson’s 90-year-old mother, Eve, from a fire that devastated the Great House on his exclusive Necker Island resort. Winslet and her two children were among 20 guests staying at the property when lightning from Tropical Storm Irene started the blaze that razed the house to the ground in August 2011.
But 26 months and several million dollars later, the Great House is now complete and ready to welcome its first set of new guests. Presumably, they will equal in renown the property’s previous visitors, which have included British royalty (Princess Diana, the Duchess of Cambridge), TV royalty (Oprah Winfrey) and global megastars (Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford).
Though the 74-acre isle lies in the pristine waters of the British Virgin Islands, Branson’s alluring escape takes on a more Balinese than Caribbean theme. Each of the eight guest rooms feature king-sized beds, spacious en-suite bathrooms and panoramic views of the Caribbean, Atlantic and neighboring Virgin Islands.
The upper level of the Great House holds the Master Suite, a 1,500-square-foot hideaway, replete with a Jacuzzi, stand-alone outdoor bath and kitchenette. Down below, the lower level boasts an expansive outdoor terrace with hammocks, sofas, a family-style dining area and a zipline that transports guests down to the sandy white beach below.
Branson called Necker Island “the most beautiful place in the world” and “a home for more than 30 years.” The billionaire believes the renovation has breathed new life into the property, which he has owned since 1979 (when he was just 28 years old).
“The brand new Great House is the heart of the island, and I’m thrilled with the results,” he stated Monday. “This signals a new dawn for Necker, which I’m very excited about.”
In addition to the nine bedrooms of the Great House, the resort boasts six individual Bali Houses dotted throughout the island, and can accommodate up to 30 adults and six children at a dear introductory rate of $60,000 a night thru Dec. 21, 2013.
Scroll down for a sneak peek at the new Necker Island, a Virgin Limited Edition property.