My Own Private Island
A tiny, self-contained land mass could be yours
By Rosemary McClure, Times Staff Writer, www.latimes.com ( Los Angeles Times), October 16, 2005
Got stress? Maybe you need to spend a little time on your own treasured island.
Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways, happily shares Necker Island, his northern Caribbean sanctuary, with renters who can pay at least $100,000 for a five-night stay. Or you can spend a few nights at Cayo Espanto in the turquoise waters off the coast of Belize, said to be a favorite of Tiger Woods, for a mere $1,095 per night.
If you want to play Robinson Crusoe long-term, you can buy a piece of paradise from German entrepreneur Farhad Vladi, who has about 160 properties to sell, including Isla de sa Ferradura, an island and luxurious hacienda off Ibiza, Spain, for about $39 million, and Hawbolt Island West in Nova Scotia, for $68,000. Islands aren't just for the rich, says Vladi, who has sold more than 1,500 islands in the last 30 years. His advice: Rent first to make sure you like it. (See www.vladi.de or call  423-3202.)
Branson's Necker Island, at the northeastern tip of the British Virgin Islands, was developed as a vacation home for the Branson family, but when they're not around, the 74-acre island is available for private rental. It has a 10-bedroom main house, three Balinese guest houses, three pools and a staff of 42. The island can accommodate 28 people, with all-inclusive rates based on time of year and number of guests, from $20,000 to $42,000 per night, with a five-night minimum.
A less expensive—but still pricey—choice is Cayo Espanto, where you can snorkel in front of your own villa. The western Caribbean island, which has been featured on "Dr. Phil" and "Oprah," has five houses; guests can choose from villas or a bungalow ranging from $1,095 to $2,650 per night, including meals and drinks; the entire island rents for $9,000 to $13,000 nightly.