Richard Branson’s got himself another island to play with. There won’t be a huge hotel complex or golf course instead, Branson is hoping to make Moskito Island into an eco-resort. Or does that sound too good to be true? Branson’s first tourism venture was the Residencia Hotel in Majorca where his people famously barred the public from using the local beach, cutting down old trees as a barrier.
Branson’s new island takes its name from the Moskito Indians who lived in the area from before the 1500s and not from an excess of mosquitoes as it might suggest. It’s only 124 acres in size and one mile away from another Branson celebrity retreat, Necker Island. Branson wants his latest purchase to serve as an eco-friendly example to the rest of the resorts out there.
He said: “I was terrified that Moskito would end up in the wrong hands and be ruined.
“It is a beautiful island that needs love and attention. I want to start from scratch and create the most ecologically friendly island in the world.
“Come back in five years and you’ll find a mini-Bali with a rainforest in the Caribbean.”
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Conventional cars will be banned although there may be small electric buggies to ferry visitors around. Homes will be built Balinese-style from sustainable materials. Branson is already installing wind and wave turbines and solar panels on Necker, which is used as a hideaway by celebrities such as Mariah Carey and Annie Lennox.
Sir Richard said he intended Moskito to be carbon neutral when it’s finished, and promised to achieve the same on Necker within nine months.
Speaking on the environment to the U.S. Senate in Washington last month, he said: “Both islands are test beds and hopefully other islands in the Caribbean will follow suit.”
A spokesman for Virgin said the island hopes to become “the ultimate eco-friendly family holiday destination, open to tourists within a few years. Visitor attractions will include hiking and snorkeling and perhaps a spot of treasure-hunting.
The Colquhorn Reef near Moskito has claimed many boats and private yachts, according to locals, and it’s rumoured that a Spanish ship carrying hundreds of pounds of gold sank nearby in 1742.
Local Moskito eccentric Bert Kilbride has spent the last 50 years searching for the treasure. The 92-year-old treasure hunter, who calls himself the “last pirate of the Caribbean”, will have to compete with Branson for the bullion, it seems.
Other locals have expressed concerns over Branson’s take-over. Local boating operator Bareboats BVI expressed concerns that the little jewel could be ruined by the flamboyant Branson.
“The likelihood of this little Virgin Island treasure ever again being the low-key ‘all welcome’ kind of place it once was may be in doubt.
“I have nothing against Mr Branson, but I do fear that the everyman may soon lose access to yet another of the British Virgin Islands. Let’s hope my fears are unfounded.”
Meanwhile, green groups are wondering how Branson hopes to off-set the considerable number of air miles flown to get to the eco-resort. No word on those plans yet.
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