Report From The Oasis Estate On Richard Branson’s Moskito Island

Moskito Island, near Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, was purchased by Sir Richard Branson in 2007. It neighbors his Necker Island. The history of the name isn’t clear, but is said to originate with the Miskito Indians who traveled from Central and South America through the Caribbean. President Barack Obama learned to kiteboard there shortly after leaving office in 2017.

Stays on the island are now bookable through Virgin Limited Edition and the destination has been getting incredible press as an over-the-top gorgeous (and expensive) retreat.

I’m recently back from a stay at the Oasis Estate, one of four bookable properties on the island, which runs $19,000 per night in low season and $28,000 per night in high season. That price is inclusive of meals and most activities as well as boat transfers from Beef Island airport and up to 18 people can stay on property.

Here’s their new promotional video for the Oasis Estate, and I’d note that staff in the video are actually staff on property.

Visiting The British Virgin Islands

The resort is primarily accessible via Beef Island airport off Tortola, though I’m told that B.V.I. is working on providing for direct transfers from St. Thomas (where you’d clear British Virgin Islands immigration in prior to departure, so no hassles on arrival).

In the meantime I flew into Saint Thomas on American Airlines. From there it’s a quick 29 mile flight. I had to register in advance on the Island’s visitor portal, uploading a negative test taken within 5 days of travel, and show my QR code when I landed.

american airlines in st. thomas

Once on Beef Island I had to show proof of full vaccination and take another Covid-19 antigen test (US$50) prior to entering the country. Then it was a quick van ride to the boat dock for transfer to Moskito Island.

On the return I took a Cape Air flight from Beef Island to San Juan (~ $300 one-way, and just under 45 minutes in the air). Since I was in B.V.I. for only three days, my negative Covid-19 test on arrival was still valid for departure to the U.S., but another antigen test was provided for the day before departure. More paperwork for bureaucratic processes is always better, I say.

How Did I Wind Up On Moskito Island?

Long-time readers know that I don’t do junkets. If there’s an event I want to attend, where I can’t just pay for it, I’ll make a charitable donation to cover what it would have cost. I don’t want to accept ‘freebies’ – though I’ll accept lunch ordered into a conference room as part of a media briefing for instance.

I pay for my own flights for events I do attend, too. For instance I paid my own way to Singapore for the unveiling of their new business and first class products in 2017. I do some consulting, though mostly for investment firms and if I’ve ever consulted on a product I disclose it any time I write about it.

So, how did I find myself on Moskito Island in the British Virgin Islands? Moskito is one of two neighboring islands owned by Sir Richard Branson – the other is Necker Island.

necker island
Necker Island As Seen From Moskito Island

There are no current redemption options for Moskito. There are a half dozen estates on Moskito, and the one I’d be staying on, now known as the Oasis Estate, was just added to Virgin Holidays. It was previously known as the Jain Estate.

New loyalty program Bilt, which is aimed at renters (and whose new credit card gives one point per dollar on rent payments, which is handles with no fee), was founded by Ankur Jain. And he invited out a bunch of folks (including Frequent Miler) to the island to talk about the program and give him feedback.

I wouldn’t have gone, since I’d been traveling for work the previous week, but Richard Kerr (formerly of Award Travel 101 and The Points Guy) was the one asking, and Richard’s a great guy. And a couple of friends were part of the trip as well. So after vacillating for a bit I bought my flights. I still didn’t know quite what to expect, but an executive for one of Bilt’s points transfer partners who was on the island the week before me texted proof of life. So I went.

The Best Spot On Moskito Island?

The Branson Estate is right on the water, which is incredible. That means it’s steps from water sports, which makes sense from everything I’ve seen of Richard Branson.

moskito island branson estate
Branson Estate On Moskito Island

But I actually think the location of the Oasis (Jain) Estate at the top of the island may be the best, which 360 views from almost everywhere.

moskito island oasis estate

view from oasis estate

The home itself is just beautiful, with glass and outdoor spaces everywhere.

moskito island oasis estate indoors

It really is the outdoors that’s the highlight, of course.

moskito island oasis estate pool

moskito island oasis estate view

Recreational activities like sport courts are shared on the island. Golf carts are easy to arrange. Staff, provided by Virgin Holidays Limited Edition, are friendly as can be. And there’s a resident chef on the property. His food is excellent as well, and service across the board is friendly and responsive. Olivia Callaghan, the head of guest services on the island, is a particular treasure, proactively organizing my departure that was earlier than the rest of the group, and seeking me out with details without my having to ask after them.

Coffee, cocktails and snacks always available, whether indoors or at the swim up bar. Fresh juices, pastry, and order off of a menu at breakfast, and the chef prepares some great dishes for lunch and dinner. Everything is taken care of.

Moskito Island Is A Great Experience, But More Than I’ll Spend To Return

I had my own room, but a shared bathroom. The room’s door lock didn’t work, but there was no one on the island to be afraid of. The shower in the bathroom didn’t get very warm, though the outdoor shower off of that shower certainly did.


My Room At The Oasis Estate

I wouldn’t ever rent this out myself at over $20,000 a night – even amortizing it over the maximum number of guests (‘sleeps 18’ though I understand they’re building another bungalow with bunk beds for kids) it’s still more than $1000 a night per person. But it was an incredible spot for sure. And ultimately as beautiful as the setting is, it was the people I was with rather than the place that made the trip special.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Did I miss the part where you paid the $1k+ for your stay, or where you donated that amount to charity?

    Also, I’m sure that getting the chance to stay on a billionaire’s private island will not in any way influence your reporting on the horrendous Bilt card.

  2. I’m confused.

    You go to great lengths to explain “no freebies”. And you point out you booked your airfare.

    What about the lodging cost? The incidentals? The meals?

    If this wasn’t a junket, what was it?

  3. @ Gary — Why the round-a-bout explanation of who paid? Why not just come right out and say that it was paid for by X at a cost of Y. That would be clear, full disclosure.

  4. It really is ok you went on their dime considering it’s how you make your living & pretty much expected – however pretending otherwise is not

  5. So you made a charitable donation of $60,000 to equal the three days you were there? But you’re giving feedback to Ankur Jain (consulting) so isn’t it proper and normal for him to provide lodging? I do admire your ethics though…..

  6. Wow I was there many years ago and knew one of the owners from a women in family business group that started at Wharton. Some of us in that group went and had a fantastic time. I was so disappointed when it was gone. A beautiful place that had great fresh made French food

  7. Are there more posts coming? I suspect the expected quid pro quo was some publicity on the blog. This seems to fall short. If they were really just looking for feedback on the service/experience, why do a post at all? But if you’re going to do a post, why not a full trip report?

  8. So modern. I used to go to this Island when it was rustic, but very romantic cottages. They had a seaside half outdoors sea side restaurant that was very good. The sea was the bluest I had ever seen. Guess that was at least 30 some years ago. I believe it was Drakes Anchorage Inn.

  9. There is nowhere, an I mean nowhere that is worth anywhere near what they’re asking and unbelievably getting from some people. There are people that have so much money and are willing to spend it but not me. I need to have value for dollars. I’ve traveled to more than half the countries in this world and if I’ve learned anything, it gives me much more satisfaction staying in a small hotel in say Hanoi and paying $15 a night for a clean room, private bathroom and great breakfast than it does paying $100 a night in say Las Vegas in addition to the bogus $30 a night resort fee and gambling in a casino where I know the odds are stacked against me to begin with. We really have to avoid the hype and use our heads. I don’t listen to my friends who tell me I’m foolish and “you can’t take it with you when you die,” but you certainly can live without extreme foolishness when you realize you got caught up in doing what others perceive as unique experiences when you know it’s just hyped up BS.

  10. Great pics, the place looks peaceful.
    I cry when I have to spend more than 15k hyatt points, cant imagine $20k USD.

  11. Great pictures . . . doubt I’d spend $20k per night to stay on an island named Moskito. Is that Spanish or Portuguese for mosquito?

  12. I don’t know why people are dumping on you here. I think you made it pretty darned clear that on an ongoing basis you always pay your own way but in this case do to the high cost you took a freebie. I like the way you are straightforward with integrity and do not agree that you went ’round-about in describing that here. I think what we are seeing is simply trolls, you are bing trolled and that is a shame, commentors here were never like that before but it is what it is nowadays. It’s a shame though.

    The only thing missing from the article is a close up pic of the swim up bar, I love those things!
    Those of us who will never visit this class of property appreciate your reporting.

  13. On the contrary I didn’t even take a freebie, I figure the cost and make donations to charity in that amount. People don’t seem to read very closely.

  14. @Gene – I thought I was providing full disclosure, if anything is unclear just ask. I paid flights, and since the stay on the island was covered I made charitable donations to offset. What’s unclear?

    I suppose I’m just a bit circumspect talking about my charitable giving, taking a very Jewish view of it – that admirable gifts are those which seek no recognition (Cf. Maimonides’ Eight Levels of Charity).

  15. Is that a pull-out sofa bed in the last pic? Call me crazy, but that doesn’t seem very luxurious. I’d prefer a room with a real bed and a private, not shared, bathroom. On the other hand, I guess you can’t complain too much if you weren’t paying for it. 😉

  16. So you did donate 60 k to charity.
    Cool. I didn’t think a working man could do that but I’m old and my perception of the world is off.
    My apologies…..

  17. @Jorge Paez – No, I did not donate 60k. That covers the whole estate for everyone for 3 days, including Bilt staff. I allocated *my portion* to charity.

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