What does a wanderlusting billionaire have in common with Robinson Crusoe? A penchant for desert islands, of course. Private Islands have become the ultimate statement of wealth and opulence in the past few decades. Little did Crusoe know that his life of primitive solitude would be so coveted in the 21st Century (minus the random acts of cannibalism, natch). Maybe it's the commuting-hell we go through every day, or our fantasy to be swept a shore with just eight songs, one book and a luxury item a la Radio 4 that has given private island ownership cult status.
The best islands have been snapped up by the uber-rich (Richard Branson's Necker Island is reportedly worth $60 million) but, lucky for some of us, the billionaires behind these paradisiacal playgrounds have oh-so-kindly offered their islands up for holiday rental.
The accidental-castaway is so eighteenth century; now it's all about the luxury-castaway. If Crusoe could conquer an island for the second time, here is a quick list of what he (you) should be looking for:
A Royal Greeting: North Island, Seychelles
Every island needs royal relations and North Island in the Seychelles was home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their honeymoon in 2011. Sorry Robinson, you'll never be King of this island! Abandoned in the 1970s following the collapse of the coconut industry the island has since been turned into a world leading conservation project, with so few villas you'll barely see another soul during your stay.
A Jurrasic Park Blue Print: Laucala Island, Fiji
If it doesn't look like Jurassic Park, it's just not good enough. Enter Laucala Island in Fiji. From the sky it's a dead ringer of (our Richard Attenborough favourite) Jurassic Park island and if it's the other Attenborough that you lust after, there is enough wildlife to keep the biggest nature lovers busy. Not forgetting the island is owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschiz. Quite fittingly, you can discover your small piece of utopia by canoe, kayak, Olympic sailing boat, wakeboard or water ski. Apologies, sky diving from the stratosphere on to the island is strictly off limits… For now.
A Clifftop Spa: Fregate Island, Seychelles
If your idea of a desert island escape is slightly less Harrison Ford heroics and a bit more Jennifer Aniston spa bunny then Fregate Island is for you. The service is impeccable and each island inhabitant can access a twenty four hour in-villa dining service and butler. After all, every desert islander needs some assistance and even Crusoe had his best pal, Friday. The Rock Spa, perched high on a cliff top has giant tortoises gently roaming through its grounds. Andddd, relax.
Tasting Menus to Match Your Mood: Necker Island, BVI
The ethos behind Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands is to treat it as your own, and guests are encouraged to help themselves to whatever they want when they want. The menus are entirely dependent on the party's individual tastes (and what is in season of course), and where you eat is again determined by mood - be that at a table, on the beach, or off a canoe in the swimming pool -the choice is yours.
Space for a Mini-Empire: Lana’i Island
Should you really get carried away you might just want to buy the whole place. Lana'i island goes by the nickname of 'Hawaii's most enticing island', which might explain why billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle fame splashed a cool $300 million on buying 98% of it. The island's main draws are a wonderfully laid back vibe (the speed limit on the island's traffic light free 30 miles of roads is 30 mph) and the chance to swim with spinner dolphins in beautiful Manele Bay.