Bunking down on Necker Island as Hurricane Irma approaches. Picture: Supplied
Bunking down on Necker Island as Hurricane Irma approaches. Picture: Supplied

Branson bunkers down for Hurricane Irma

Sir Richard Branson has refused to leave his private Necker Island and says he will be hiding in his wine cellar when Hurricane Irma hits the luxury hideaway.

The Sun reports that the Brit billionaire has decided to ride out the storm and was pictured playing dice with his staff members on Tuesday night.

They even had a "sleepover" in two rooms as they prepared for the most powerful Atlantic storm ever to lash the British Virgin Islands with 300kmh winds today.

Sir Richard admitted the eye of the category five hurricane is heading straight for Necker Island after lashing the Caribbean islands of Barbuda, St Barthelemy and St Martin today.

The "potentially catastrophic" storm is churning along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly hitting Florida over the weekend.

"We are expecting to get the full force of the hurricane in around five hours' time, when we will retreat to a concrete wine cellar under the Great House," Sir Richard wrote in his blog.

"Knowing our wonderful team as I do, I suspect there will be little wine left in the cellar when we all emerge."

The Virgin boss shared pictures of his team holed up together in bunk beds as they waited out the storm.

"We have just experienced a night of howling wind and rain as Hurricane Irma edges ever closer towards us on Necker and the British Virgin Islands," he said.

"All of us slept together in two rooms. I haven't had a sleepover quite like it since I was a kid.

"Strangely, it's a privilege to experience what is turning into possibly the strongest storm ever with such a great group of young people."

All guests have been evacuated from the celeb hangout and staff members have been moved to the main house for safety.

Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private island. Picture: Virgin Limited Edition
Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private island. Picture: Virgin Limited Edition

Photos from inside the island retreat show panicked staff members moving furniture, kayaks and other water sport equipment inside.

Sir Richard described the atmosphere as "eerie but beautiful" and said everyone is willing the hurricane to veer away from the island.

"Fortunately, most of them drift north of us, but this one is coming straight for us, with the eye of the storm heading straight for Necker, Moskito Island and Virgin Gorda," he said.

"Obviously things can change - hopefully they do, as a category five hurricane hasn't hit the (British Virgin Islands) BVI full on before."

He insisted Necker Island has "really strong buildings" with hurricane blinds that should be able to handle "extreme weather pretty well".

"We had some lovely guests staying on Necker Island who have cut their trip short for safety reasons, and another group of guests have also postponed," Sir Richard wrote.

"I will be on Necker alongside our team, as I have been on the three times we have had hurricanes over the past 30 years."
The billionaire urged other islanders to go to shelter and prepare for a huge storm.

He wrote: "With the likelihood of a Category 5 hurricane, it is really important people go to hurricane shelters if possible (such as the Methodist Church and public community centres in Virgin Gorda).

"Have a plan for where you can stay, have a go-bag with disaster supplies, and have a family emergency communication plan. Keep informed of the latest developments (we have been getting updates from the Government and BVI Tourist Board) and stay safe."

The Virgin boss has entertained A-listers from Mariah Carey, Kate Winslet and Harry Styles to the Obamas at the stunning retreat.

News Corp Australia


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