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64Isea& iIWINTER 2010

inprofile H aving been in the international travel market for 25 years, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame continues to take a hands- on role in the choice of properties he offers clients. His exclusive Virgin Limited Edition portfolio currently extends from his original Necker Island retreat in the British Virgin Islands, to Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, Ulusaba in South Africa, The Lodge in Verbier, Switzerland, Sa Terra Rotja near Palma, Mallorca, and ( for dining and events) The Roof Gardens in London, UK. Perhaps with the intention of providing his original Caribbean property with a little sister, Branson recently purchased and refitted a 32m ( 105') catamaran, Necker Belle, which is available to charter from February 2010. Here, the British entrepreneur talks about his ventures - including his new launch. Travel experts tend to specialise in one type of holiday - what is your inspiration behind offering seven very distinct/ individual properties? I think it all ties in with the way I approach any of my businesses. Distinction, soul and character are three very important qualities that define our retreats. We have been fortunate in finding hidden gems, with each having a fun story behind the inspiration. Take Kasbah Tamadot, for instance. I have my mum to thank for spotting this divine fortress from the side of the road while I was attempting a world record in a hot- air balloon. Necker Island. well, that was a ploy to win over Joan, now my loving wife. We aspire to inspire our guests and strive to keep our collection eclectic and a tempting alternative to cookie- cutter hotels. Necker Belle is a fine example of how we do not confine ourselves to land. He famously crossed the Atlantic and Pacific in a hot- air balloon, but with his latest venture entrepreneur Sir Richard Bransonis getting closer to the ocean with the launch of his new catamaran Necker Belle ByKate Rigby VIRGINTERRITORIES richard branson ? WINTER 2010I sea& iI65 Clockwise from top: Necker Island; Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco; the recently refitted charter yacht Necker Belle