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May 29, 2024

Billionaire’s playgrounds: the world’s most luxurious private island retreats

Aneesha Gaba

These tropical island retreats offer the last word on privacy, owned by the likes of Sir Richard Branson and David Copperfield and rented out to the rich and famous. From the Amalfi Coast to the British Virgin Islands and Fiji and the Bahamas, let’s go island-hopping.
A private island holiday comes with only one catch — the only rules are the ones you make.

These secluded sanctuaries have round the clock security, no neighbours, no dress code (only your personal style), world class gourmet food and an entire team of people whose only job is to cater to your every whim and fancy

Think snorkelling expeditions, castaway picnics, epic party nights and organising treasure hunts for the children.
Li Galli
The island that perhaps occupies the top slot in the echelons of privacy is Li Galli, off the Amalfi Coast. This exclusive heritage retreat finds many mentions in the annals of history as the small archipelago Circe warned Odyssey about in Homer’s epic The Odyssey. Occupied by sirens (mythological), pirates, Romans and even kings, the island now belong to hotelier Giovanni Russo who restored and continues to enhance the six bedroom hideaway built by 20th-century ballet legends Léonide Massine and Rudolf Nureyev.
Li Galli, off the Amalfi Coast, Italy
Li Galli, off the Amalfi Coast, Italy
The main villa, in keeping with the Moorish influenced décor, has a room covered from dome to floor in Turkish tiles — be sure to look out for the former owner’s mother’s name spelt out in Arabic. Explore the tower that once housed a ballet studio, terraces that open out to the sea and when you are done with the day, unwind in the grotto-like saltwater pool and soak in the rustic beauty.
Necker Island
When Oprah wants some downtime, this is the place she’s known to head to! Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands is exclusive, idyllic and astonishingly beautiful. For the duration of the stay, the island is your domain and the best way to wake up every morning is in the stunning master bedroom in the Great House, with views of the ocean from the private sundeck, complete with an outdoor Jacuzzi.
Master Bedroom, Great House, Necker Island
Master Bedroom, Great House, Necker Island
Don’t be surprised to spot a Lemur, Iguana or other wildlife that share the island with you. Fit in a round of tennis in either of the two courts, kite surf like Branson, let loose in the game room, nibble away at fresh sushi from the sushi kayak while floating in the pool or simply watch the waves from the 26-foot sofa in the Beach House. And yes, Branson style legendary parties can also be organised at any part of the island — think Moroccan nights, Vegas casino themes or even the good ol’ Disco Party!
Laucala Island
Welcome to the haven that is the 1,400-hectare Laucala Island in Fiji. Owned by Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz, the island houses 25 villas including Mateschitz’s three-bedroom private estate on the highest point of the island.
Laucala Island, Fiji
Laucala Island, Fiji
With more of a resort than private island home vibe, it takes a staff of 400 to look after 80 guests, but then there is an 18-hole championship golf course, myriad water sports and sublime food to take the edge off. Don’t get off the island without taking a spin in the two-seater semi-submarine.
Musha Cay
The luxurious island retreat in the Bahamas owned by illusionist David Copperfield puts such a premium on seclusion that Copperfield bought over the neighbouring 10 islands (one of the islands doubles up as a private landing strip) to protect his privacy. Naturally, the living accommodations are incomparable and have a certain exotic vibe thanks to artefacts and antiques from Copperfield’s adventures, but the main draw of renting Musha Cay is the bespoke experiences.
Musha Cay, Bahamas
Musha Cay, Bahamas
Some ideas to get you started: A night at the movies at Dave’s Drive-In, the outdoor theater on the beach complete with gourmet popcorn; drinks on the Two Mile sand bar that only appears when the tide is favourable; a day jaunt in the 28-foot amphibious catamaran; and for the competitive, The Musha Olympic games. For a truly spectacular end to the holiday, pre-book a firework display or engage in some bonding exercise with the exclusive three-hour pirate-themed treasure hunt.

Kannav Chaudhary


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