No offshore bank account, no problem. You can still holiday like richard branson
It costs a cool £39,000 a night to stay at the Virgin tycoon’s exclusive Necker Island. But if a casual remortgage of your house isn’t on the cards this summer, there are other options for you to holiday in splendour. Once the preserve of oil magnates and rock star royalty, private island vacations are slowly but surely shaking off their elitist tag to offer mainstream holidaymakers a slice of paradise for a fraction of the cost.
Passion for the traditional package holiday - however luxe - has cooled as travellers seek solace from itinerary-led trips and tourist-trapped resorts. A trend that savvy tour operators and island owners are now capitalising on with much more affordable offerings.
For those in search of the ultimate private escape, there’s a huge global portfolio to choose from and a wide budget base. Reclaimed naval sea forts, secluded Scottish hideaways, classic Greek islands and even a Bahamian idyll are up for rental with prices ranging from around £500 per week to £7,000 plus per night. And it’s not just sundowner-sipping honeymooners seeking out their own personal paradise.
Demand has grown among a whole host of holidaymakers, including hen and stag parties looking for Instagram-worthy adventures as well as larger families seeking a luxe home-from-home. Mike Clare, owner and chairman of AmaZing Venues, caters for all. “We have every sort of clientele. The one thing uniting them is that they are people who enjoy adventure and want a totally different experience. Our guests don’t do ordinary and neither do we.” Which begs the question: if you’re looking for a life less ordinary, which island will you castaway to?
the wilderness retreat
If you like your getaways rough and ready, look to Deepwater Island in Canada’s Massassauga Provincial Park. Despite appearances, this plot is but a two-hour drive and short water-taxi hop away from Toronto, making it the ideal spot to decamp to for a weekend. Chris Krolow, CEO of Private Islands Inc who lease out Deepwater says, “These days, people are looking for something different and these affordable island rentals on stunning lakes in Canada or the USA are getting booked up fast.” Affordable, accessible and with excellent 3G connection for those not quite ready to castaway completely. From £1,249 per week, privateislandsonline.com
the a list dream
Little Whale Cay in the Bahamas is a short plane hop from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to a postcard-perfect Bahamian jewel of white sandy beaches and turquoise sea. Boasting a private airstrip, watersport flotilla and personal masseuse on hand to pummel away your cares. Stay in one of three quaintly named Beach houses: Little Whale, Peacock or Flamingo. It’s as close as you can get to living the dream without the trustfund to back it up. From around £7,000 per night for up to 12 guests, littlewhalecay.com
An infinity pool, cinema and swanky glass ceilings make sun-soaked Villa Faros, on the unspoiled island of Kythera, a winner for those seeking a luxury retreat sans eye-watering price tag. Take 15 of your nearest and dearest to kick back on two private beaches, feast on freshly caught lobster and drink in the ocean views. From £971 per night, privateislandsonline.com
the tropical island
A stay at L’Ilot Island, nestled in a blue lagoon by mainland Mauritius, can be luxe or budget. Opt for a fleet of staff on hand to cater to your every whim, or have the villa stocked with goodies for an intimate experience. Manager Sebastien Lamusse paints a picture, “The front steps lead down into the lagoon to a private bathing spot.” From around £2,100 per week. lilot.biz
the scottish hideaway
Set against a backdrop of lochs, the island of Scalpay near Scotland’s west coast is a chance to get away from it all. “Visitors range from city slickers to nature lovers or honeymooners,” says Veronica Walford, manager of Scalpay Cottages. With no shops or roads to distract, staycationers can take bracing walks or go seal-watching. From £567 per week, isleofscalpay.com
the party pad
Spitbank Fort, accessible only by private boat across the river Solent, is the ultimate hedonistic weekend destination. Built in 1878 as a naval defence sea fort, it’s now a luxury nine-bedroom party shrine complete with lighthouse, champagne bar, rooftop hot tub, sauna... A Bond villain would kill for this. From £5,000 per night for exclusive hire, amazingvenues.co.uk