Most likely shopping around for your own private island isn?t as close to your mind as designing your dream apartment because, like most of us, your bank account won?t allow it. But as is the case with anything out of reach, island ownership is an indicator of wealth and high society. Owning your own island puts you akin to royalty, and is undeniably one of the ultimate status symbols. The owners of private islands are not known to skimp on the elaborate and elegant design, resulting in French-style castles and Robinson Crusoe bungalows that make us want to go out and buy a lottery ticket. But alas, here we find ourselves, admiring the glossy magazines with dreams of our private islands forming in the backs of our minds. We are all in favor of an innocent guilty pleasure, so let?s indulge together. What is up with private islands?
Little Hawkins Island
Pink Pearl Islands
To start at the beginning, Greek shipping mogul, Aristotle Onassis, is considered the ?godfather? of owning private islands. He initiated the trend in 1968 when he used his Grecian island, Skorpios, for the location of his high-profile wedding to Jackie Kennedy. The wedding was a star-studded event that brought the notion of owning a private island to the forefront of every person?s daydream. Since then, it has become commonplace for the rich and famous to own their own luxury retreats. Most that own private islands choose tropical destinations, but there are others that prefer to keep it closer to home. Privately owned islands can be found all over the world but those owned by the glamorous elite have one common denominator: they are the beautifully indulgent and utterly exclusive.
Onassis? Skorpios Island, located in the Ionian Sea, off the Western Coast of Greece, is the image of traditional glamor. It was inherited by Onassis? daughter, Athena, who sold the family?s island in 2009 to Giorgio Armani for an estimated $190 million, beating out fellow-bidders Bill Gates, Roman Abramovich and Madonna. Most of the island remains untouched, and many of the developments unchanged, such as the numerous tennis courts, lush gardens, and most notably, Jackie O?s Pink House villa. Although it is now one of many privately owned islands in the world, Skorpios Island remains one of the most beautiful and expensive. Unfortunately for us daydreaming at our desks, hardly any images of the island are available to the public.
Onassis and Skorpios Island
Following Onassis in the private island hierarchy is Richard Branson, British business entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Records. Branson owns islands in Australia and Dubai but is most famous for his lavish home on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. Branson bought the 74-acre island in 1979 for roughly $293 million, and has made at least $10million worth of developments since then. In August 2011, Necker Island made the front pages of the media when it caught fire due to lightning during a tropical storm. Kate Winslet was a guest on Necker Island at the time and has been credited for saving the life of Branson?s 90 year old mother. Despite the fire, Branson?s eco-friendly luxury resort reopened a month later with plans to rebuild the houses damaged. Branson opens his island up to many guests, including Princess Diana, Steven Spielberg, Robert DeNiro and Mariah Carey. Branson?s eco-friendly resort is also open to the public with access to six newly refurbished ?Bali Houses? as well was Branson?s 105-foot Catamaran, ?Necker Belle.?
Another notable island owner is Celine Dion, whose private getaway is located in her home province, Quebec. The estate, covering 830,000 square feet, sits in Montreal?s Mille ?les River. The French-style chateau expands across 24,000 square feet, housing marble ceilings, stone terraces and balconies overlooking the water. The stone mansion was custom built in 2001 with luxuries such as a stone-vaulted wine cellar with a separate tasting room, as well as a tailored elevator. The island is heavily fenced in order to discourage over-eager fans, and is only accessible to a selected few by helicopter or gated bridge. To further inspire our fantasies, Dion?s island is currently on the market for, compared to the islands owned by Armani and Branson, a meager $29 million.
Celine Dion's private getaway
Other famous island owners include Leo DiCaprio (Blackadore Cay, Belize), David Copperfield (Musha Cay, Bahamas), Ricky Martin (Angra dos Reis, Brazil), Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (Goat Cay, Bahamas), Mel Gibson (Mago Island, Fiji) and the Barclay brothers (Brecqhou Island, Bailiwick of Guernsey, English Channel).
If you could own an island anywhere in the world, which one would you pick?