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December 16, 2018

The Incredible Toys Of Billionaire Richard Branson

From spaceships to hot air balloons, billionaire entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is always playing with some new toy. ;

He’s set world records with kite boards, planes, and even rockets through endeavors with Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Oceanic, and Virgin Galactic. He even has two islands in the Caribbean dedicated to parties and adventures.

We’ve rounded up some of his most outrageous toys here. ;

Perhaps Branson’s most famous toy, Necker Island is a 74-acre Caribbean resort that’s played host to plenty of celebrity-packed parties since the 1970s. Thought it took him five years and $10 million to construct the island resort, he estimated that the island is worth at least $60 million, as of 2006.

Source: ;Virgin blog

Guests staying at Branson’s resort can use this zip line to get down from the main house to the beach.

Source: Virgin blog

When his guests get tired of lounging by the pool or beach, they can hang out on his 105-yacht, the Necker Belle. He put the yacht up for sale in March, though he has yet to find a buyer.

Source: ;Yacht Charter Fleet

;

He can explore the sea around his island on the Necker Nymph, a three-passenger open cockpit submersible that was designed just for him by submarine company DeepFlight.

Source: DeepFlight

;

;

He also owns neighboring Moskito Island, which he hopes to turn into a sanctuary for endangered lemurs and a model for renewable energy use.

Source: Virgin blog, The Guardian

;

Branson has also reportedly gone on dives in the DeepFlight Super Falcon, a $1.7-million submarine that mimics flying underwater. “The sub handled beautifully, descended to 100 feet smoothly, then straight up, bursting through the surface of the water,” Branson reportedly said after his first dive in a Super Falcon. “We went in search of Great White sharks, when suddenly, one appeared. Graham Hawkes, the genius behind the submarine, was shouting like an excited schoolboy, and so was I.”

Source: Business Insider, DeepFlight

;

Branson has always loved exploring the high seas. In 2004, he was the first to buy an Aquada, the world’s first high-speed amphibious vehicle. That summer, he set a record for crossing the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle, completing the task in just one hour and 40 minutes.

Source: Gizmag

;

In 2011, Branson launched Virgin Oceanic to explore previously unseen parts of the ocean. The DeepFlight Challenger was designed for adventurer Steve Fossett, who would use the submarine to explore the Marianas Trench on a record-breaking solo dive. Unfortunately, Fossett died before he could embark on his journey on the Challenger, and the submarine is now managed by Branson’s Virgin Oceanic.

Source: Telegraph, DeepFlight

In October of 2008, Branson and crew departed New York City in a 99-foot yacht called “Virgin Money,” in an attempt to break the transatlantic monohull sailing record. The team was forced to abandon the effort after facing 40-foot waves in the Bermuda Triangle.

Source: New York Daily News

Kitesurfing is one of Branson’s favorite hobbies. In 2013 he organized the Virgin Kitesurfing Armada, which broke the Guinness World Record for the largest number of kitesurfers to complete a one-mile course. He is also the oldest man to kitesurf across the English Channel, a feat he completed in 2012, at the age of 61.

Source: ;Virgin, ;Daily Mail

Branson likes to play with toys in the sky, too. In 1987, he crossed the Atlantic in the Virgin Atlantic Flyer, becoming the first man to cross that ocean in a hot air balloon. In 1991, he was in the first balloon to cross the Pacific. Branson made several attempts to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon with aviators Steve Fossett and Per Lindstrand, though they were ultimately unsuccessful.

Source: ;Daily Mail

Branson always brings an element of fun to Virgin Atlantic flights. Here, he poses with models and lifeguards on the wing of a plane that had just landed in Sydney.

For his personal use, Branson flies a Falcon 50EX. He recently sold his Falcon 900EX, which was too large for life on Necker Island. “I need a small plane just to get out of the British Virgin Islands,” he told Business Jet Traveler. “And I use that for shorter distances.”

Source: Business Jet Traveler

;

In 2003, he took to the skies on a glider modeled after the world’s first plane, made by Sir George Cayley in 1853. Branson flew for 50 yards at an altitude of fifteen feet, remarking afterwards, “That was fantastic. I can fly. That was exhilarating.”

Source: BBC

But Branson hopes to fly people to much higher altitudes someday. He has plans for Virgin Galactic to take tourists to space aboard the WhiteKnightTwo, a rocket-powered spaceship he named VMS Eve for his mother. Tickets will cost a staggering $250,000 per person.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Read more stories on Business Insider, Malaysian edition of the world’s fastest-growing business and technology news website.

View original article: 

The Incredible Toys Of Billionaire Richard Branson

France's camps offer family-friendly flexibility

SAINT-JUST-LUZAC, France (AP) — One son’s conquering a waterslide. The other’s at the soccer pitch leading French, British and Dutch teammates to victory. Mom’s getting a massage. Dad’s poolside chatting to his new European neighbors and plotting a barbeque.

You might not recognize this as a typical holiday in France. But this is how French families celebrate summers at 10,000 campsites nationwide, half of Europe’s total. It’s rural France at its most flexible and relaxed. Options range from frugal to fabulous. Pack a tent, fly into any French airport, rent a car and head out.

Don’t like roughing it? Neither do most Europeans, who bring their designer dogs and satellite dishes, and choose hard-roofed accommodation from mobile homes to fairy-tale cottages. The most exclusive options are booked months in advance.

I’ve gone the scruffy, improvised tent-in-suitcase route three times, sampling sites from Normandy to the Pyrenees. This summer I took my partner and sons, aged 4 and 16, to three five-star camps.

___

DOMAINE DES ORMES, Brittany, northwest France

How flashy is this mega-camp? The resident owner takes helicopter day trips from his medieval chateau.

Des Ormes (The Elms) has an 18-hole golf course, hotel with spa, equestrian center, three restaurants, pub, three pools (two outdoor with wave pool and slides, one indoor with steamy jungle plants), playgrounds, turf field for sports, lakes with fishing and paddle boats, and a treetop adventure course featuring log bridges and zip lines.

You’d need a week to do it all, never mind nearby attractions like the Mont Saint-Michel monastery, walled pirate city of Saint-Malo and D-Day sites.

Activities for young and old run several times daily. On our last night, hundreds gathered at the poolside amphitheater for a camp-produced film featuring time-traveling knights. The heroes found themselves in modern-day Les Ormes defending their “castle,” the owner’s residence — and appeared live at the pool, with dozens of extras, to duel the villain. Amid eyebrow-singeing blasts of fire, the bad guy got chest-kicked into the water.

Fireworks ran 15 minutes. The boy on my shoulders loved it. Everyone else was impressed it happened at all.

___

SUNELIA INTERLUDE, Ile de Re (Ile de Re), mid-Atlantic Coast

A four-hour drive south, the Ile de Re feels exclusive, starting with a 16 euro ($21.50) bridge toll.

Re is best seen by bicycle. The island, 30 kilometers (20 miles) long and 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide, is flat as a pancake with one of Europe’s most extensive bicycling networks. Paved paths run through salt beds and vineyards. Haggle at rental bike shops in one of the 10 villages, not at the campsite, to save money. Bikes can include child seats or canopied two-wheeled chariots for infants and pets.

We camped beside the beach on Re’s sandy south coast. Nature here is schizophrenic: At high tide, the sand’s been swallowed up; six hours later, you can walk a quarter-mile (half kilometer) into the Atlantic, in bath-like calm, before your feet leave the muddy sand. Hundreds of parked bicycles — and zero cars — mark the beach entrances, flanked by surf schools and catamaran clubs.

But the Interlude campsite, run by the Sunelia chain, proved a letdown despite its five stars. Its indoor complex of water-jet pools was overrun by children and had only one toilet. Its playground and sports facilities were cramped, some pathways were crumbling — my younger boy got bloody knees falling in a pothole — and its too-formal restaurant had short hours and extortionate prices. We stuck to ice cream and pizzas from the overpriced convenience store.

Fortunately, three nearby villages of whitewashed homes with pastel shutters — Le Bois Plage, with a daily market and old-school amusement rides, fortress-enclosed Saint Martin de Re, and yacht-filled port of La Flotte — offered buckets of atmosphere, seaside dining and competitive superstores.

Wildlife around our tent included feral kittens, rock-hopping lizards, and a praying mantis. We fed spiders to the ruthless, muscle-armed mantis and took it home as a prized family pet.

___

SEQUOIA PARC, Poitou-Charente, southwest France

An hour’s drive south past La Rochelle and Rochefort lies the oyster capital of France and, inland, one of the finest family campsites, Sequoia Parc, on the grounds of a grand chateau.

A four-pool complex offers water slides for every age, even toddlers; a lazy river; and sundeck with non-alcoholic bar.

At the camp’s mini-zoo, my younger son loved visiting goats, chickens, geese, a sheep, badger and alpaca. There are pony rides and weekly visits from a traveling circus featuring acrobats, jugglers, camels and stunt cats, including one who escaped under the bleachers.

Nighttime entertainment beside a barnyard-converted pub and restaurant included a laughably unfunny mime and a live Shrek show that mesmerized my 4-year-old. His big brother bonded with other boys playing basketball, tennis and soccer, then hit the pools with his gaggle of Euro-lads.

My partner indulged in massages, 60 euros ($80) an hour, while I enjoyed simple things: an herb garden for cooking, starling nests inside tropically gardened shower blocks, and chatting with neighbors over candlelit Bordeaux or Cognac.

One warning: Sequoia Parc is flanked by marshland. If mosquitoes find you delicious, you’re doomed.

___

If You Go…

CAMPING IN FRANCE: Most campgrounds open mid-May to September. A few like Des Ormes offer year-round facilities. Off-peak prices can be as low as 5 euros ($7) a day for campsites, with hard-roofed accommodation starting at 300 euros ($400) a week. Prices can quadruple for peak summer weeks. Companies like CanvasHolidays and Eurocamp can help book itineraries with varied lengths of stay and locations.

DOMAINE DES ORMES: http://www.lesormes.com/en/

INTERLUDE: http://en.interlude.fr/

SEQUOIA PARC: http://www.sequoiaparc.com/en/

Read this article:  

France's camps offer family-friendly flexibility

France's camps offer family-friendly flexibility

SAINT-JUST-LUZAC, France (AP) — One son’s conquering a waterslide. The other’s at the soccer pitch leading French, British and Dutch teammates to victory. Mom’s getting a massage. Dad’s poolside chatting to his new European neighbors and plotting a barbeque.

You might not recognize this as a typical holiday in France. But this is how French families celebrate summers at 10,000 campsites nationwide, half of Europe’s total. It’s rural France at its most flexible and relaxed. Options range from frugal to fabulous. Pack a tent, fly into any French airport, rent a car and head out.

Don’t like roughing it? Neither do most Europeans, who bring their designer dogs and satellite dishes, and choose hard-roofed accommodation from mobile homes to fairy-tale cottages. The most exclusive options are booked months in advance.

I’ve gone the scruffy, improvised tent-in-suitcase route three times, sampling sites from Normandy to the Pyrenees. This summer I took my partner and sons, aged 4 and 16, to three five-star camps.

___

DOMAINE DES ORMES, Brittany, northwest France

How flashy is this mega-camp? The resident owner takes helicopter day trips from his medieval chateau.

Des Ormes (The Elms) has an 18-hole golf course, hotel with spa, equestrian center, three restaurants, pub, three pools (two outdoor with wave pool and slides, one indoor with steamy jungle plants), playgrounds, turf field for sports, lakes with fishing and paddle boats, and a treetop adventure course featuring log bridges and zip lines.

You’d need a week to do it all, never mind nearby attractions like the Mont Saint-Michel monastery, walled pirate city of Saint-Malo and D-Day sites.

Activities for young and old run several times daily. On our last night, hundreds gathered at the poolside amphitheater for a camp-produced film featuring time-traveling knights. The heroes found themselves in modern-day Les Ormes defending their “castle,” the owner’s residence — and appeared live at the pool, with dozens of extras, to duel the villain. Amid eyebrow-singeing blasts of fire, the bad guy got chest-kicked into the water.

Fireworks ran 15 minutes. The boy on my shoulders loved it. Everyone else was impressed it happened at all.

___

SUNELIA INTERLUDE, Ile de Re (Ile de Re), mid-Atlantic Coast

A four-hour drive south, the Ile de Re feels exclusive, starting with a 16 euro ($21.50) bridge toll.

Re is best seen by bicycle. The island, 30 kilometers (20 miles) long and 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide, is flat as a pancake with one of Europe’s most extensive bicycling networks. Paved paths run through salt beds and vineyards. Haggle at rental bike shops in one of the 10 villages, not at the campsite, to save money. Bikes can include child seats or canopied two-wheeled chariots for infants and pets.

We camped beside the beach on Re’s sandy south coast. Nature here is schizophrenic: At high tide, the sand’s been swallowed up; six hours later, you can walk a quarter-mile (half kilometer) into the Atlantic, in bath-like calm, before your feet leave the muddy sand. Hundreds of parked bicycles — and zero cars — mark the beach entrances, flanked by surf schools and catamaran clubs.

But the Interlude campsite, run by the Sunelia chain, proved a letdown despite its five stars. Its indoor complex of water-jet pools was overrun by children and had only one toilet. Its playground and sports facilities were cramped, some pathways were crumbling — my younger boy got bloody knees falling in a pothole — and its too-formal restaurant had short hours and extortionate prices. We stuck to ice cream and pizzas from the overpriced convenience store.

Fortunately, three nearby villages of whitewashed homes with pastel shutters — Le Bois Plage, with a daily market and old-school amusement rides, fortress-enclosed Saint Martin de Re, and yacht-filled port of La Flotte — offered buckets of atmosphere, seaside dining and competitive superstores.

Wildlife around our tent included feral kittens, rock-hopping lizards, and a praying mantis. We fed spiders to the ruthless, muscle-armed mantis and took it home as a prized family pet.

___

SEQUOIA PARC, Poitou-Charente, southwest France

An hour’s drive south past La Rochelle and Rochefort lies the oyster capital of France and, inland, one of the finest family campsites, Sequoia Parc, on the grounds of a grand chateau.

A four-pool complex offers water slides for every age, even toddlers; a lazy river; and sundeck with non-alcoholic bar.

At the camp’s mini-zoo, my younger son loved visiting goats, chickens, geese, a sheep, badger and alpaca. There are pony rides and weekly visits from a traveling circus featuring acrobats, jugglers, camels and stunt cats, including one who escaped under the bleachers.

Nighttime entertainment beside a barnyard-converted pub and restaurant included a laughably unfunny mime and a live Shrek show that mesmerized my 4-year-old. His big brother bonded with other boys playing basketball, tennis and soccer, then hit the pools with his gaggle of Euro-lads.

My partner indulged in massages, 60 euros ($80) an hour, while I enjoyed simple things: an herb garden for cooking, starling nests inside tropically gardened shower blocks, and chatting with neighbors over candlelit Bordeaux or Cognac.

One warning: Sequoia Parc is flanked by marshland. If mosquitoes find you delicious, you’re doomed.

___

If You Go…

CAMPING IN FRANCE: Most campgrounds open mid-May to September. A few like Des Ormes offer year-round facilities. Off-peak prices can be as low as 5 euros ($7) a day for campsites, with hard-roofed accommodation starting at 300 euros ($400) a week. Prices can quadruple for peak summer weeks. Companies like CanvasHolidays and Eurocamp can help book itineraries with varied lengths of stay and locations.

DOMAINE DES ORMES: http://www.lesormes.com/en/

INTERLUDE: http://en.interlude.fr/

SEQUOIA PARC: http://www.sequoiaparc.com/en/

Continued here – 

France's camps offer family-friendly flexibility