The lure of life on your very own dot on the map has a unique appeal - an appeal which the picture perfect Banwa Island has in spades.
It’s probably just luck, coincidence or faulty memory, yet every time that I’ve seen Richard Branson interviewed on the news of late he’s been speaking via Skype from his private island, Necker. And on each of those occasions the skies behind him seem grey, the palm trees near-horizontal as they’re buffeted by the wind and the windows spattered with raindrops. Yet still I can’t help thinking how extraordinary it must be to experience the joy of having an island all to yourself.
I did try it once, many years ago in Malaysia, when some local friends organised a fisherman to take us to a little dot on the map half an hour or so off the east coast. It was an experience at the exact opposite end of the spectrum to Necker. We had no gear, unless you count a couple of pans for cooking on an open fire and some straw mats on which to sleep out under the dark tropical sky. For all that it was a magical 24 hours or so, with a glorious beach, a small hill to climb and an unforgettable starscape above. I even remember waking up in the middle of the night and looking around to see, shocked, that the six of us were surrounded by thousands upon thousands of curious (but harmless) crabs, wondering who’d invaded their idyll.
Thankfully, not all deserted islands require the infinite funds of a billionaire or the hardiness of a youthful backpacker. Banwa Island in the Philippines is a tropical island paradise that’s every bit as perfect as you could hope for, yet – unlike most equivalent paradises you might find in the Maldives or Caribbean – only available for exclusive-use hire.
There are six secluded villas of varying sizes dotted around the island, holding up to 22 guests, while 12 garden rooms in the centre of the island bring the total potential guest list up to 48; the team running Banwa expect that it’s generally only the villas which will be used, however.
If the use of the word ‘villa’ suggests that you won’t be roughing it, you’d be right. ‘Banwa aims to provide one of the most luxurious, authentic and enriching travel experiences available anywhere in the world, and all in an environmentally sensitive manner,’ writes the island’s blurb of this spot in the remote region of the Palawan, which is apparently a 50-minute private jet followed by a 10-minute helicopter ride from Manila.
If you’re going with a group of family or friends you’ll probably be happy to hear that each villa is secluded and designed to enjoy views over the ocean and white sands, with floor to ceiling windows, a private infinity pool and Jacuzzi deck. And don’t think you’ll need to fend for yourself, either. There’s a team on-hand to cater to your every whim, and food is prepared by Algerian born Nadedja Bouacha, a former private chef and nutritionist to the Qatar Royal Family who has has also cooked for Leonardo Di Caprio, the Beckhams and Kate Moss.
Banwa has officially just opened its doors, though with the season in the Philippines almost at an end it’s more likely you’ll be looking at a trip some time after November. See www.banwaprivateisland.com for more details – though don’t expect to see a price list. You might not need Branson’s riches to book a week here, but suffice to say it’s not a bargain option either.
We take a look at some of the most beautiful places for sale across the Mediterranean right now, including a
Just £300,000 buys the magnificent – and magnificently-named – Holm of Grimbister, lying off the coast of Orkney.
Buying a house on Jumby Bay is unlike buying anywhere else in the world exclusive properties on a stunning