Are you looking for some fun-in-the-sun time on a private island that also has a flock of flamingos, lemurs, giant tortoises, turtles, birds and iguanas around? On Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island all the Balinese-inspired houses boast a beautiful view and if you are looking for a well-known tennis and or kitesurfing expert for lessons, this is your spot.
Here is a video of the highlights of my stay and a look at a few of the gorgeous homes on the island. It is a great place for singles, couples and or families to come together for a celebration trip!
If you don’t want the island for exclusive use, you can book a room during one of their Celebration Weeks.
Irish eyes will be smiling for us once more when the Emerald Isle reopens to tourism from outside the E.U. on July 19. It’s just in time to savor the last couple months of the glorious Irish summer and early autumn. With average high temperatures in the 60s, it’s a beautiful place to escape the heat. The island shimmers with greenery throughout the long summer days, making an indelible impression on travelers’ memories. Dublin is a great place to start to learn about the country’s history and culture before you set out into the countryside. As the Irish will tell you, if you’ve only seen Dublin, you haven’t seen Ireland. A great way to do so is by car, starting in the east with Dublin and ending in Shannon in the west (or vice versa), preclearing U.S. customs on your way out.
Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the capital to see where the country’s patron saint baptized converts to Christianity and admire the illuminated manuscript of the Book of Kells at Trinity College. Get some fresh air in the urban oases of Phoenix Park and St. Stephen’s Green or walk in the footsteps of great writers such as Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats, or their characters, such as James Joyce’s Leopold Bloom, who mused that a “good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub.” While a computer programmer has figured out that such a thing can be done, there’s no reason not to stop in for a pint at the Guinness Brewery or Temple Bar area.
Proceeding clockwise around the island from Dublin, you’ll encounter Kilkenny and Waterford. Kilkenny is home to an 800-year-old Norman castle and eye-catching architecture from several periods, including the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras. It’s also known for its modern cultural aesthetic, with art galleries, design workshops and theaters making it a popular destination. Waterford retains well-preserved sections of city walls and towers. The Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre allows tour guests to see master craftspeople shape the world-famous crystal into intricate designs. On your way west, stop at the Rock of Cashel, a group of buildings at the ancient seat of the kings of Munster.
The Republic of Ireland’s second-largest city, Cork has a much more intimate feel than the much-larger Dublin and is a great place for a walking tour. One of County Cork’s best walks is the distillery trail at the Jameson Heritage Centre, where you can learn all about the famous whiskey and sample a dram or two. In the southwest corner of the island lie the 110 miles of the Ring of Kerry, a 110-mile loop beginning in Killarney that takes you through charming villages, past castles and into ancient wilderness. Less crowded and no less beautiful is the Dingle Peninsula, a natural gem rich in archaeological sites.
Offering striking views and excellent hiking, the Cliffs of Moher rise as high as 700 feet above Galway Bay and the North Atlantic. Farther inland, the Burren is an entrancing moonscape of desolate beauty formed of the rocks that give rise to the cliffs. Dozens of large neolithic tombs are scattered throughout the area, dating back thousands of years. Continuing north, you come to the lively city of Galway, a center of traditional Irish language and music. Thanks to its status as a university town, Galway boasts some of Ireland’s best nightlife and serves a centrally located base for venturing on the 1,550-mile Wild Atlantic Way.
A mix of wilderness and quaint villages, the counties of Mayo, Sligo and Donegal are a great way to conclude your Irish odyssey. Attractions include the mountains of Connemara National Park, Achill Island and the 2,500-foot Croagh Patrick, a pilgrimage site dedicated to the patron saint. Towns of note are the carefully designed Westport, William Butler Yeats’ boyhood home of Sligo and historical Ballina, a key site in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
COVID entry protocols
If a passenger has valid proof of vaccination, no travel-related testing or quarantine will be necessary.
If passenger does not have valid proof of vaccination, they will need to:
present evidence of a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours prior to arrival into the country
undergo post-arrival testing
Should the U.S. be added to Ireland’s “emergency brake” list, the protocols would apply:
If passenger has valid proof of vaccination, they will need to:
produce a negative result from a RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival
undergo post-arrival testing – this will be provided through the HSE
If passenger does not have valid proof of vaccination, they will need to:
produce evidence of a negative result from a PCR test undertaken no more than 72 hours before arrival
undergo mandatory hotel quarantine
undergo post-arrival testing
Where to stay
The Merrion Hotel
The Merrion, Dublin’s most stylish five-star hotel, is set in the city center. Housed in four Georgian townhouses and a contemporary Garden Wing, its bedrooms and suites surround two 18th-century-style gardens. Stunningly restored interiors provide the perfect backdrop for one of Ireland’s most impressive private art collections. Choose from three dining options: Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (Ireland’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant), The Garden Room restaurant, and The Cellar Bar. Art Afternoon Tea service is available in the gracious Georgian drawing rooms. Indulge in a massage or facial in the new Merrion Spa & Health Club.
Mount Juliet Estate
There is a legacy to the Mount Juliet experience that stretches far beyond the luxury of the bedrooms and the decadence of the dining options. Perhaps you feel the urge to thunder through open pastures and traipse across woodland trails on horseback. Maybe you want to feel the tug on your line and the splash from the River Nore as a salmon takes your bait. And have you ever felt the singular rush of an arrow flying forth from your bow or a falcon swooping down to land at your command? We offer a unique range of activities on the estate, unparalleled in the way they combine deep-seated historical traditions with the best modern equipment.
Sheen Falls Lodge
Sheen Falls Lodge, in verdant southwest Ireland, is a privately owned country house retreat. Guests are treated to a magnificent natural holiday and are encouraged to explore the surrounding woodlands, Sheen River, and cascading waterfalls while enjoying hiking, biking, horseback riding, salmon fishing, falconry, and kayaking. There are numerous championship and parkland golf courses nearby, some with breathtaking views of the sea. If the spa lifestyle is more your cup of tea, head to the Easanna Wellness & Spa for treatments using Elemis and Voya organic products, or take a dip in the indoor swimming pool.
Through the grand stone gates, a royal adventure begins. This remarkable 800-year-old castle, widely recognized as Ireland’s top castle destination and once home to the Guinness family, is exceptional in every sense. Set in 350 acres of woodland on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo, the property has received multiple awards and accolades. Enjoy extraordinary dining experiences and fine Irish cuisine, watch hawks soar at Ireland’s first school of falconry, and restore inner peace at the state-of-the-art spa. Warm smiles from the extraordinary characters of the castle will greet you at every turn.Ireland’s only Forbes Five Star Hotel.
What mountain are you trying to summit? Cokie Berenyi achieved one of her goals and dreams by climbing Mt. Everest. She did it for many reasons, but one honorable one was to raise funds for cancer prevention. She dedicated her Everest climb to benefiting MUSC Hollings Cancer Center’s community outreach programs.
She will be hosting A Perfect Day retreat September 23-26 at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona where she will have an Everest discussion and share tips on how you can live your own Perfect Day. Join us for our Zoom with Canyon Ranch and Cokie this Thursday, July 15th at 1PM EST to see what this trip will be about. Cokie will give an exclusive recap on her Everest Summit.
Cokie believes that the tiniest shifts can make a big impact and by one step at a time we can work together to create our own Perfect Day. For any questions on the Canyon Ranch trip, please contact Stefany at: email@example.com and or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you looking to celebrate a special occasion in an estate on a private island? If so, Moskito Island in the British Virgin Islands is an amazing spot for it! I recently returned from an educational trip at Sir Richard Branson’s private islands, Moskito and Necker. Seclusion, turquoise water, magnificent views, delicious food, watersports, wonderful staff, tennis, exclusivity-Moskito Island checks all of these boxes.
Here is a video of the highlights of my stay and a look at a few of the breathtaking estates on the island. Moskito Island is a 10-minute boat ride from Necker Island and close to Virgin Gorda. It is a great place for singles, couples and or families to come together for a celebration trip!
Here in this video, I am with Cokie Berenyi, A Perfect Day Engineer and mountain climber of the world’s 7 summits! She recently returned from climbing Mt. Everest!
We talk about her WHY and what it felt like accomplishing the climb. She will be doing a post Everest discussion at a 3-day A Perfect Day retreat she is hosting at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona September 23rd-26th, 2021. I read her Perfect Day book and love the gratitude jar she mentions in it. I did it last year, writing down everything I was thankful for each day or week, put it in a jar and on New Year’s, read them with my husband. It was a fun and meaningful exercise. The Perfect Day process helped me manifest a life dream this year with my business and has helped me to have more Perfect Days in everyday life, too — grateful for Perfect Day.
I was pinching myself when Lyndsey Balog, my Virgin Limited sales contact, asked me if I wanted to do an educational trip to Necker and Moskito Islands, Sir Richard Branson’s private islands in the British Virgin Islands, which is one of my favorite places on Earth! I also happen to be a huge Branson fan as I read his books, The Virgin Way and Finding My Virginity. I love his sense of adventure, work ethic, philosophy, fun loving personality, his philanthropic and sustainable missions, and the way he lives life. How could I possibly say no to this opportunity? To see Necker Island, a place he calls home was a dream of mine and a Bucket List trip!
I have a picture of Necker in my office that my husband and I took when we chartered a boat on our honeymoon and bounced around the BVI’s. This was a bit surreal to me as the past year, I’ve been visualizing Necker Island in some of my meditations-talk about manifesting! This trip to “paradise island” had special meaning to me which made me so excited not only to experience these exclusive places, but to share my experience with my clients and others.
As we are still under this “Covid cloud” for travels, I completed a BVI application before I left with proof of my Covid vaccination card, a negative Covid-19 test (had to be taken 3-5 days before departure), confirmation of accommodation, passport number, date of issue on my passport and my travel insurance policy. The application fee was $105.
At the gate in San Juan, I had to show the QR code I received after my application was approved by the BVI government and my passport. We took a smaller Seaborne plane from San Juan to Tortola. Once we arrived in Tortola, we took a Covid test at the airport. It was a quick process for us going to Necker as we were the first to receive the Covid tests and didn’t have to wait in line. At this point, for fully vaccinated travelers, the quarantine is only 24 hours. Jeremy, Moskito’s General Manager met us (Lyndsey, me and four fellow travel advisors) at IAM Jet Centre and escorted us to our boat that was ready to take us to our home for the next 2 nights- Estate #3 on Moskito Island.
Currently, there are six estates on Moskito Island, more are in the process of being built. Walking in was a WOW moment, the feel was light, airy, and the views were gorgeous. We were greeted with a cocktail, appetizers, and a warm smile.
You get around by golf cart on the island as some of the hills are steep. My room also had a living space that was separate from the bedroom. There was a sliding door that locked between the bedroom and living area. No need to bring sunscreen here, they have it placed in the bathroom for your use along with bug spray. I love that the sunscreen they use is also coral friendly! Estate #3 can fit up to 22 guests in it. The rooftop has panoramic views and is a great spot to stargaze.
The view from my bed was breathtaking.
Highlights of this stay besides being a beautiful estate were a day trip to Manchineel beach with a BBQ lunch, getting to know the advisors and staff, pizza night at the Beach Pavilion, a rum tasting, touring the property and a few other gorgeous estates here. I discovered I liked the Goslings rum the best and Zacapa 23 came in second for me. For tennis lovers-the tennis court here is the prettiest court I have ever seen!
I was blown away by the spacious living space and view in the Estate #6 we toured. The estate has seven rooms and a bunk room that can fit up to 8 children in it.
I think families will have a field day at Estate #7 with this water slide! This estate has ten rooms. They are building a hot tub here in a location that will give you an adrenaline rush!
Seeing the Branson Estate was another WOW moment for me. I loved that 2 of the Estates were each decorated by his daughter Holly and his son Sam. How can you go wrong with this entertainment space in the Headland House?
We saw this breathtaking sunset at Estate #3 on our first night.
The boat ride to Necker from Moskito was about 10 minutes. I got chills as we arrived at the red dock at Necker. I couldn’t believe I was about to step foot on Sir Richard Branson’s private island! The staff is ready waiting for us at the dock and took us to the Great House, which is where we stayed. The décor is Balinese, there are a lot of interesting and cool pieces in here and the other houses. Moskito is more contemporary in décor than Necker. Necker is 74 acres in size with a 3-mile perimeter! For hikers, there are several trails on the north end that will take you around the coast or over the main ridge which you can do alone and or with a guide.
I stayed in room #4 at the Great House on Necker Island. I loved the fact that I could see Bali Hi out the window! The picture I’ve been looking at for years in my office is of the Bali Hi House! I felt at peace as soon as I walked in the room. The views, the decor and YAY, a signed copy of Branson’s “Losing my Virginity” book to read, I can’t wait! Thank you to the Necker team for making our stay so special. And thank you for all these goodies! Love them all!
While we were touring the properties we saw the flock of the flamingos in the pond, giant tortoises and lemurs hanging out. This place is great for wildlife lovers-children will be enthralled with this here! I am holding a baby giant tortoise in this picture. These are believed to be the first naturally bred Aldabra Tortoises outside the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles.
A huge highlight was hanging out with the Lemurs! The last time I saw Lemurs was in Madagascar and I remember being amazed at how far they could jump from branch to branch. On Necker they were jumping on us! We fed them. It is not recommended to pet them.
At the Beach House there is a tennis court where you can take lessons with a pro (included in the rate), and you can have a spa treatment. I had a massage with Anastasia, and she was great. She was extremely knowledgeable and went the extra mile in giving me suggestions on stretches. One of the other great value is that you can also take a kitesurfing lesson (included in the rate). I did this with Ben, he was a great teacher. I had the kite up for a bit on the land for my first lesson here, which was fun! Other activities you can do here are: wakeboarding, waterskiing, sailing, paddle boarding, sub winging, snorkeling and scuba diving.
All the food served is fresh and delicious. Our chef was creative with the meals and the display on the plate. There wasn’t one meal I didn’t like. They pay close attention to detail. In my preference sheet I filled out before I left, I put that I primarily eat gluten free (besides my cheat meals) and in the morning they served me this scrumptious gluten free toast which was appreciated. One highlight was watching a mermaid floating in the water with a boat of sushi! There was a great DJ there playing tunes while we hung out and ate lunch. I kept saying that I want the Necker Island play mix! The music around the island was such an awesome mix! A disco DJ is included for one night during your stay.
Another highlight was our boat excursion day (included in the rate). We first stopped for a snorkel before we headed to Jost Van Dyke to have lunch at Hendo’s and then a cocktail at Soggy Dollar. On our way back we stopped at Willie T’s new location (post hurricane) before we headed back. Our staff was so fun and full of energy, they had us smiling and dancing on that boat. It was a party!
It’s hard to have a favorite house here as they are all so beautiful and have their own sense of character and place. Necker has the Great House which can accommodate up to 24 guests in 12 rooms plus 6 children in the bunk room, the Bali Houses-Bali Lo and Bali Hi which each accommodate 6 guests in 3 rooms and the Temple House which can accommodate up to 4 guests in 2 rooms. I loved this view at Elder’s Temple, which is a newer house on this island.
The beach at the Beach House was a great spot to relax and soak in the sounds and the sights. You may get lucky and see a flamingo fly by! There are Celebration Weeks where you can book a room and or you have the option to book the whole island for a wedding and or other special celebration for up to 40 guests. Smaller groups (8-15 rooms) can be booked and shared on a non-exclusive basis with other guests from June-December. For parties with more than 40 people, we can look at booking Necker and Moskito.
Before heading back to the US, we also needed to show a negative Covid test. We had a doctor come to Necker Island the day before we left to take our tests and received the results the following day. Another dream trip realized and a reminder that manifesting works! A huge and heartfelt thanks to Lyndsey Balog and the Virgin Limited Edition team for giving me this unbelievable opportunity. And thank you to the Moskito and Necker teams for the great service, the fun and for making this trip so memorable.