Richard Branson's Moskito Island

Big plans for 'green' development

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Maura Curley

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Moskito Island in BVI was NOT Sold by Richard Branson. Related article is here.

What a difference thirty years and a few billion dollars makes.

In 1978 when entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson was yet to develop his Virgin Group empire, he and his now wife Joan decided to spend a holiday in the BVI and go island shopping. They had heard that realtors in the Virgin islands would roll out the red carpet, with free villas and helicopter tours for potential purchasers. At the very least they they would enjoy a holiday.

He and Joan feel in love with Necker Island. But the disparity between the asking price of about three million pounds and the two hundred thousand or so pounds Branson revealed he could afford, got the couple evicted from their complimentary villa. Their bags were packed and they were sent scrambling for a place to sleep for the night.

Or so the story goes in Branson’s memoir Losing my Virginity.

The rest is history. Through direct appeal to the island’s owner, Branson managed to buy the island for a fraction of the market value , close to his original offer.

Now Branson is again investing in BVI real estate, but a bit less cost conscious.

He paid about $19 million for the 125-acre, Moskito Island, named after the Moskito Indians, which has been undeveloped except for the Drake Anchorage Resort, which closed in 2000.

It’s located between Branson’s Balinese style resort on Necker, currently valued at $106 million and Virgin Gorda’s North Sound.

His plans to build a resort on Moskito Island to showcase the world’s best approach to an eco friendly development were outlined at a public hearing in Virgin Gorda.

Ryan West, project manager for the development, said the resort will utilize sustainable design and construction techniques. Renewable solar and wind energy, low-flow showers, and composting toilets are listed in the recently released master plan.

The first phase will include five three-bedroom villas, a residence for Branson, staff accommodations, a refurbished dock, a restaurant, beach bar, nature trails open to the public, an organic garden and orchard, a swimming pool and tennis courts.

Phase two includes the addition of 15 villas that would be “be discreetly set into the lower uplands.”

West said the best experts in green technology will be brought in to train local contractors, so they can use the techniques in other Virgin Islands developments.

He said the resort plans to set the pace for green design.

Sir Richard said that buyers had already been found for the "seven or eight" luxury, carbon-neutral, private homes that would be built on the island by late 2013. Read the article in the UK Telegraph about the project's controversial plan to introduce Lemurs to the island that led to a FALSE report of its sale here.

Aerial view of Richard Branson's Moskito Island

Photo courtesy paradise-islands.org


Maura Curley is publisher of virginvoices.com


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