Days away from Necker Island

36

In April, 2015, I decided that it would be cool to use miles to book a week on Sir Richard Branson’s private Island.  Virgin Atlantic lists this award on their website under Partner Offers… Virgin Group.  This award isn’t exactly cheap.  The cost: 1,200,000 miles.  In exchange, they offer 7 nights for 2 people including all food, drinks, and activities.  But the alternative, to pay cash, isn’t exactly cheap either: approximately $30,000.

necker-island-pool-and-beach

When I started the quest, I didn’t have 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles.  I had a balance of 1,079 miles.  I needed 1,198,921 more miles in order to book the award.  It took me 7 months, but I did it… without flying.  In fact, I have yet to ever fly Virgin Atlantic.  I like to think that I’m the first person to book this 1.2 million mile Necker Island award without ever having flown Virgin Atlantic.  But, who knows? The award has been available for years.  Others could have done it.  Of course I would like to fly Virgin Atlantic, but due to flight schedules and other factors, it just hasn’t happened yet.

Wondering how I earned the miles?  Mostly through credit card signup bonuses.  Fortunately, Virgin Atlantic is one of the most promiscuous airlines when it comes to partnering with banks.  Every transferable points currency can be transferred to Virgin Atlantic.  That meant that I could earn Amex points, Citi points, Chase points, Starwood points, or even Diners Club points in order to build my Virgin Atlantic balance.  Better yet, Citi and Amex frequently offer bonuses when transferring to Virgin Atlantic, and I was able to take advantage of those offers.  And, of course, I was able to sign-up for the 90K-ish Virgin Atlantic card offer to earn even more miles.

For those who haven’t been following along from the beginning, the following posts will get you up to speed:

Getting There

Necker Island guests are responsible for getting themselves to nearby Beef Island.  For most of us, that means flying into the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS).  From there, we were told that there would be a taxi waiting take us to the dock where “Necker boats will be waiting” to bring us over to Necker Island.

Air Sunshine
Air Sunshine

From the Detroit airport, our route will require 2 segments to get to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then one small hop from there to Beef Island.  If all goes according to plan, we’ll fly a number of different airlines to get there:

  • Delta to Florida (Friday Evening): Confirmed first class upgrades
  • JetBlue to San Juan (Saturday Morning): Confirmed extra legroom seating
  • Air Sunshine from San Juan to Beef Island (Saturday afternoon):  Confirmed tiny little cabin

At the end of the week we’re scheduled to return all in one day:

  • InterCaribbean Airways to San Juan:  Another little tiny cabin
  • Delta all the way home: Confirmed first class

Except for the short flights between San Juan and Beef Island, all of the other flights were booked with points one way or another.  Our outbound Delta flights were booked in economy with CNB points. We then used soon-to-expire Platinum upgrade certificates to move into first class.  The JetBlue flight was booked with JetBlue points earned from the big JetBlue Points Match deal.  And our return Delta flight was booked with Delta miles.  Our Air Sunshine tickets cost $175 per person, and InterCaribbean cost $158.50.

Blogging and Vlogging the trip

Is Necker Island really worth all of the hype?  I don’t know, but I’ll find out soon!  Along the way I plan to record as much video as possible while respecting the privacy of other guests.  I plan to post photos, videos, and comments regularly on Twitter and Facebook.  And, Monday through Friday I’ll publish my impressions via blog posts.  If you haven’t already subscribed to my emails, please do so now!  Also, of course, please “Like” my Facebook page, and follow me on Twitter.

Hurricane Season

My understanding is that Hurricane Matthew left Necker Island alone, and it looks like Hurricane Nicole is likely to do the same.  Of course, there’s always a chance that another storm will come along and ruin our trip.  The weatherhq forecast for Necker Island at the time of this writing is mixed:

necker-island-weather-forecast

What will happen if we get really bad weather?  I don’t know, but I imagine it will make for interesting posts!

What’s included?

The Necker Island website lists the following as included in the room rate:

  • All meals and drinks (including all alcoholic beverages) in a variety of locations
  • Return launch transfer from Virgin Gorda or Beef Island airports
  • All your activities including a team of watersports professionals and tennis instructor – we have just about every type of watersports equipment you can imagine
  • Fully stocked bars throughout the island
  • Two freshwater pools and a large Jacuzzi on the beach
  • Two floodlit tennis courts
  • DJ entertainment on one night
  • Wireless internet throughout the island
  • Laundry service (dry cleaning not available)
  • 7% local tax

I’m excited!

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[…] the US, you could get to 1.2 million miles almost entirely from credit card sign-ups.  That is what Greg, author the Frequent Miler blog, did.  The articles from his week are […]

[…] Days away from Necker Island […]

[…] My wife and I are currently enjoying a 1 week vacation on Sir Richard Branson’s private island: Necker Island.  The usual price for a week on the island is just north of $30,000.  Instead, we paid 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles.  For additional background, please see “Considering the 1.2 million mile Necker Island challenge,” and “Days away from Necker Island.” […]

[…] Background: My wife and I are currently enjoying a 1 week vacation on Sir Richard Branson’s private island: Necker Island.  The usual price for a week on the island is just north of $30,000.  Instead, we paid 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles.  For additional background, please see “Considering the 1.2 million mile Necker Island challenge,” and “Days away from Necker Island.” […]

tim

Ignore the trolls! Not sure why they follow you just to insult you especially when you’ve made it a point not to pimp credit card offers like other sites.

[…] Background: My wife and I are currently enjoying a 1 week vacation on Sir Richard Branson’s private island: Necker Island.  The usual price for a week on the island is just north of $30,000.  Instead, we paid 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles.  For additional background, please see “Considering the 1.2 million mile Necker Island challenge,” and “Days away from Necker Island.” […]

[…] Background: My wife and I are currently enjoying a 1 week vacation on Sir Richard Branson’s private island: Necker Island.  The usual price for a week on the island is just north of $30,000.  Instead, we paid 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles.  For additional background, please see “Considering the 1.2 million mile Necker Island challenge,” and “Days away from Necker Island.” […]

Terri Clark

I find it very encouraging and entertaining that you decided to go for it and do this. Enjoy yourself! While you’re sipping drinks on the beach the trolls will be couch surfing. I know where I’d rather be!

[…] a little peeved at Greg the Frequent Miler today. As you know, Greg is heading off to the ultra luxurious Necker Island tonight and he’ll have lots of photos and videos from there to share with us all next week. […]

P

I was afraid for you thinking there was going to be a devaluation.

p.l

I’m super excited and can’t wait to hear all about it! I was rooting for you during your process of accumulating those miles, and I’m looking forward to living vicariously through your experience there! This is one trip report they I’m most eagerly waiting for!

Strange Day

FYI

FYI on BVI

no capital gains tax,
no gift tax,
no sales tax or value added tax,
no profit tax,
no inheritance tax or estate duty, and
no corporation tax.

Strange Day

A lot of weird comments here today. Must be something in the water.

Carl P

I was there a few hours one day with a travel press group going around BVI. Did a little snorkeling and wandered around. It’s was a really cool place even given a short visit.

Chris

I’m guessing the island is privately owned, so what does Sir Richard Branson do with the sales tax he collects? Line his pockets?

James

Respect the privacy of others? HOGWASH !!! And you call yourself a Boarding Area Blogger?

🙂

Tom

@Justwondering. You could probably use 1.2M virgin points on Delta for at least 1c apiece so that would be $12,000 of travel.

JustWondering

I think I’d need to go back to basics first. But if someone doesn’t mind entertaining few basic ques:
Is this the right thought process?:
->You convert points to miles (1:1 or a better conversion depending on airlines, what’s the best conversion rate?)
-> how exactly miles work? like is it literally the miles between two places that airlines use to give you a free ticket? or miles is just a lingo? can you use “miles” to book hotels etc?
-> In the OP, does it mean the guy used $12k cash worth of points to get $30k worth of trip (including hotel, flight etc. etc? or just the travel part?)
I’ll google these answers myself as well. but if someone don’t mind explaining, I would really appreciate the time and effort.
Thank you

JustWondering

I have always wondered on one question with this miles thing.
You guys make it sound free. But don’t you think the same points can be converted to cash?
I mean converting points to miles surely offers you more value. But if this trip wpuld cost you $30k cash, the points you converted to miles were also worth some cash, right?
What was that number? You may be could have got $25k cash? I am just saying a random, could be higher or lower. But I would like to know what kind of saving you made by using those points to miles after considering their cash value.
Nevertheless I agree this game to be really worth it for travel enthusiasts. I’m just wondering how good a deal it is for us not so enthusiasts depending on the cash value of those points.
Enjoy the trip. Have fun 🙂

Mser

Don’t bother blogging about it. There’s a 1 or 2 hour BBC program about Necker Island on YouTube. #oldnews

Peter S

Good for you Greg. Have a blast and do report back.

Michael

Hey Greg, tell us how special you are? You’re the only blogger paid to do this ever and you didn’t even have to fly 1 mile. hahaha.

Why don’t you reveal the true cost of your 1st class plane flights to the island? Oh, that’s right, you ‘earned them’ for free from the airlines, thus no cost to you. Unlike your readers.

Oh and feel free to invade others privacy on a private island by taking videos of them with their consent so you can profit from it on your blog. hahahaha

#Amirite

Mike

You’re a colossal pussy, Michael.

Carp

+1 Michael gives internet trolls a bad name.

Antonio

Wow, I’m jealous, in a good way of course. I look forward to seeing your posts and reading your impressions of your trip

Alex

Sound awesome! But….7% tax? Does that mean you still get hit with a $2,100 bill ($30,000*.07) at checkout?

Alex

Whoops. I see now that the 7% IS included in the room rate. Misread it

StartSpreadingTheLove

Make sure you post on FB and TWTR how you did it all so they can shut down the methods you used. Hey, but its for the page hits and CC apps #Amirite?

bill

Never mind that Frequent Miler was the one who developed the VR method that everybody in the entire community used for MS. Obviously, you’re the only person who deserves deals.

Preacher

Super excited for you guys too–you deserve it for all you do for the rest of us in the hobby!

Julian

That’s so awesome… Have a blast! We will be living vicariously through you!