First images of the New Great House on Necker Island

The Great House on Necker Island now complete and ready to welcome its first guests.  It is the private home of Sir Richard Branson and part of the Virgin Limited Edition collection.


Following a two-year project the exterior and interior layout of the new Great House has been remodeled on the original design, with the addition of some innovative design twists.


The inspiration is from the beautiful features and Balinese style of the original structure, the new Great House offers breath-taking panoramic views of the Caribbean, the Atlantic and neighboring islands.  Each one of the eight guest rooms has a balcony, and all come with king-size beds and spacious en-suite bathrooms.  The Master Suite is on the upper level, which is a whopping 1,500 square feet and has been designed for panoramic views from virtually every angle and includes a two-person Jacuzzi, a stand-alone outdoor bath and a kitchenette area with a fully-stocked fridge.


The Great House is the located where people get together and has an open outdoor terrace with hammocks and sofas and a large dining table for everyone to gather round to enjoy their meal.  There’s a fully-stocked bar for favorite cocktails and up on the roof the crow’s nest has stunning views where you’ll find a Jacuzzi – perfect for sipping champagne as you watch the sun set.  And if you feel like a quick dip in the sea before lunch, then hop on the zip-line that quickly transports you from the Great House terrace all the way down to the sandy white beaches.
Sir Richard Branson commented: “Necker Island has been my home for more than 30 years and for me it is the most beautiful place in the world. The brand new Great House is the heart of the island and I’m thrilled with the results. This signals a new dawn for Necker, which I’m very excited about.”


For exclusive use bookings, accommodation on Necker Island includes nine bedrooms in the Great House including the stunning Master Suite and six individual Bali Houses dotted around the island.  There is also a bunkroom in the Great House that sleeps up to six children.  In totality, the number of guests that can be accommodated on Necker Island is 30 plus six children at a nightly rate of USD $60,000 until the 31st December 2013.


Apart from being the ultimate relaxing paradise, the island can also be your perfect setting for a wedding or a celebration with family and friends that you’ll will forever cherish.


There is also an option if you do not want to hire the entire island but you want to enjoy the full Necker experience, you can try ‘Celebration Weeks’ provide the opportunity to book an individual room ‘hotel-style’ for seven nights.


This ravishing Necker Island is located in the British Virgin Islands, a spectacular and unspoilt area of the Caribbean and is surrounded by turquoise waters and coral reefs and fringed with beautiful white sandy beaches.


Tips For Smooth Trips

Pack with purpose


• Bring Your Own Everything. 1. A small (inflatable) pillow 2. Ziploc bags (useful in so many ways) 3. Entertainment (include one non-electronic thing for when you have to power down) 4. Snacks, and a reusable water bottle.


• Pack light. Try to take only one suitcase, preferably a roller carry-on. This will be very convenient in any way.


• If flying, check out the current rules and restrictions at You are only allowed one carry-on that must fit in the overhead compartment and one that must fit underneath the seat in front of you; this means you are only allowed to have two carry-ons. Some airlines charge you extra to check a bag.


Plan like a pro


• Get a passport now, everyone must have one. Get one now even if you don’t have immediate travel plans because getting one can take as long as 90 days. Photo copy your passport and travel plans such as confirmation numbers, etc. Always bring the copies with you and even email a copy to your family and yourself. There are instances that the rental agencies or hotels will ask for your passport. It will be safer if you will just give them a copy Instead. Treat your passport like gold.


• Try not to overbook. Allow for travel delays. If you have a strict schedule, like a cruise or tour, consider arriving a day early.


• Read traveler reviews, but read between the lines when searching for hotels or excursions and remember to look for reviews that are recent, specific and have photos.


Make air travel easy


Arrive early, security waits can be very long and some airports are huge. Think about an hour or so earlier.


Take off jackets and shoes and empty your pockets before hand and make security smooth sailing. Liquids bag or laptop should be taken out of your luggage and must be put it in a separate bin. Be ready to answer even the strangest questions from TSA agents politely, especially if you are overseas.


Make sure you double check that you have picked up all of your belongings from the conveyor. Apply for TSA Pre-check so that you can get through security faster, this goes for a frequent traveler



Stay safe, comfy


To improve your immune system, four weeks or so, start taking probiotics before you leave. Bring a small bag with stomach soothers, motion sickness pills, ibuprofen, decongestants and basic first-aid necessities. Drink plenty of water. It will help if you will keep moving, perhaps take periodic stops during road trips and get up and stretch your legs during flights.


Take its business card with you whenever you leave your hotel. Because if you find yourself lost, this can become a lifesaver.


Tourists that are distracted and excited are often the target of pickpockets. Here’s how to avoid them, ladies, make sure your purse is closed and consider an over-the-shoulder style. Guys, keep your wallet in your front pocket.


If you have food allergies, write down (in the local language) what you can’t eat. Contact the airlines ahead of time so that they will not serve food that contains ingredients that will trigger your allergies.


Be a good guest


Thank your hostess, bringing her a small gift that is special to your home town is a great way to show your appreciation.


“Please” and “thank you”, at least learn the two in their native language and make sure you understand the tipping policy.


Find simple mementos


Take a reliable camera with you. Take a picture of everything you love and don’t forget little things like your hotel room, the front of the hotel, your tour guide, and the best gelato you have ever tasted. Don’t forget the chargers and extra memory cards. Tourist maps, pretty reusable shopping bags, quality postcards and flattened pennies are small, easy to take home, and almost free!


Save some money


• Be certain you budget everything; little things like checked baggage fees, taxis and tipping add up fast.


• Know the cancellation and price-matching policy of all hotels and tours you book.


• Local delis and grocery stores often offer fun foods without restaurant prices or when you do eat out, it’s usually cheaper to make lunch your biggest meal.


• Prior to leaving, check for online deals like Citypass or Groupon. Throughout the summer months, many museums offer free admission days, so check if that works with your schedule. When flying, always check the price of one-way fare versus round-trip prices, check airline web sites on Mondays, and reserve your seats as soon as possible.


Tips on Independent Travel vs. Organized Group Tour in Russia

It is actually very easy to plan an independent trip.  The most known routes to Russia are St Petersburg to Moscow that is why it has a good provision of services.  The best way to get around this enormous country are the Russia’s trains as they are comfortable, relatively inexpensive and services between the two major cities are frequent and efficient.



The good choice is the trains depart St Petersburg’s Moskovsky station and the first class sleeper carriages for an approximately eight-hour journey.  They are comfortable and clean with two adult berths.  It will cost around £200 per person for a one-way first class sleeper ticket.



But if you choose a daytime service and sit in second class, you may do so if you do not need a sleeping car because this will be cheaper and the high speed Sapsan trains only take four hours.  You can book in advance with agencies such as Real Russia as they also arrange your visa for you.  But the cheapest way to book tickets is at the station reservation office.



A tour isn’t needed because the journey is relatively straightforward aside from it is too expensive too.  Although its advantage would be that you can concentrate on enjoying the trip rather than the logistics.  For £1250, the Cox and Kings have a good Moscow and St Petersburg tour for seven nights; it also includes flights, a high standard of accommodation and some meals.


Travel Tips


1. It is necessary that you know basic information about your destination. Make a research about the place before anything else.
2. A copy of your itinerary must be left with a trusted family member or friend, in case of any emergency.
3. List down significant emergency information
4. Make yourself familiar with basic safety information, rules, and procedures, like what to do if you get lost or sick


1. Remember to travel light
2. Put important stuff in your hand carry bag
3. If travelling with babies, bring childproofing supplies, like electrical outlet covers and baby gates
4. Basic first aid kit is a must
5. It will save you your time, from shame and effort if you will remember the rules for what you can carry on and what needs to be checked when flying. These rules also apply to liquids such as milk or formula.


1. Be certain that your children are in approved child safety seats as mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. See Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours  for further details
2. Children that are old enough not to need a child safety seat must wear their seat belt
3. This should be a general knowledge, never leave your children alone in your car


1. Explain safety and security procedures, rules and instructions
2. Teach your children to cooperate with airport security officials
3. Inform your children that making jokes or false threats about security issues are illegal and that they may not do so.
4. Your children should be in approved child safety seats if they require them, this applies also to airplanes.
5. Ensure the requirements for strollers, diaper bags, and other baby and child equipment


1. Check your hotel room for possible hazards, such as electrical outlets and furniture with sharp corners
2. Know where the nearest fire exits, fire alarm, fire extinguisher/hose to your room
3. Educate your children basic emergency procedures, like what to do in case of a fire or earthquake
4. Put away from kid’s reach potentially hazardous items, like toiletries, etc.
5. Supervise your kids at all times, do not leave them alone


1. Watch out for your children closely, more especially in public restrooms, large crowds, and near swimming pools or bodies of water
2. Make ground rules for curfews and safety issues
3. Be sure your children cross streets with your supervision
4. Instruct your kids to go to an agreed upon safe place and stay there, if ever they get lost
5. A distinctive or brightly colored clothes will be helpful to make children more visible
6. Write down your contact information on an index card and place it in your kids’ pockets to make contacting you easier
7. This is old but still very true, do not talk to strangers, instruct children this one. Tell your children not to take anything from a stranger or go anywhere with a stranger
8. Check play areas for potential hazards, look for sharp edges or openings where your children could get stuck
9. Make sure your kids have and use proper safety equipment, like helmets and life vests, for any activities that require them


Exchange Foreign Currency at the Best Rates

Convert money for travel with the lowest fees 


Before travelling we have a lot of questions in our mind, one of the most frequent question people ask is, how do I get foreign currency for my next trip? It is often a challenge to save money on a holiday and the hardest part of it is saving money when exchanging money. Sometime you don’t realize that banks and other money changers empty your wallets so fast. Be wise and do not ignore details.

after you arrive better get local money from the ATM in the country because in most places it is always cheaper. No worries because airports have ATMs where you can do this, (at least almost all airports). It is also good if it comes handy when you need local money for cab. If you have no time to do this in the airport because you already have a transport from the airport booked with your hotel then you can just do this a little later in the hotel. You can walk around and check for ATM close to you.

Getting money dfrom the ATM is also safer. You can just get enough for the following days so you will be safe from thieves and misplacement. And this is also saves time rather than money exchange that consumes time.
It will also be good if you stick with Visa or Mastercard because both are widely accepted. Be mindful that all card issuer charges different rates for cash advances in a different country than your own.

Usually a debit card linked to a checking or savings account do not charge cash advance fees so using them will be the cheapest because you are withdrawing the money you already have therefore you will not be charging money and paying for it later. If applicable, you will still be charge for using a different bank’s ATM. You will also be charged with a 2-3% foreign transaction fee. Using a credit card versus a debit card incurs the foreign transaction fee, but also a cash advance fee which varies greatly. Often it’s 3-5%, but can be a flat rate of $10-15 (USD).

Your bank’s debit card ATM fee of $2-3 (USD) is less than the cash advance fee. To sum it up, it’s cheaper to pay a $2 ATM fee and 3% foreign fee than a 3% cash advance fee plus 3% foreign fee. To make sure about the card you have because every card is different, call your card issuer and ask for ATM fee, cash advance fee, foreign transaction fee rates.

Another tiny detail that you must keep in mind is to make sure you take crisp bill with no damage or whatsoever. Money changers will offer less or not accept worn out bills. $100 bills have the best cash exchange rate bills with lower value are changed at a lower rate. And be very wary of whom you exchange your money with, there are many scammers out there. Make sure you know the right exchange rate and if ever there will be someone offering you a higher rate or you see a signage on the street that offers higher rate do not believe it because chances are they are fraud. They are know to be quick in folding bills over or swapping bills that you may think that he had given you the right amount but in reality you had been deceived. Always go to the legitimate banks and money changers.