Kate Winslet’s character in “Titanic” barely survived an iceberg, and now the Oscar-winning actress has successfully acted the hero in a fire that ravaged Virgin Group mogul Richard Branson’s private island residence in the British Virgin Islands, Nina Terrero reports for ABC News.
Branson credited Winslet with saving his 90-year old mother, Eve, from the house fire.
“My mum is 90 and can walk, but it was more just to speed the process up than anything else. But anyway, she was great. She swept her up into her arms and got them out of the house as fast as possible,” Branson told The Telegraph.
“Talking to her, she said it’s like being in a film set where you’re waiting for the words ‘cut’ but they just don’t come. So it was quite surreal for her to be in a real-life situation.”
Winslet, 35, was among the 20 guests who was staying in Branson’s fourteen-bedroom “Great House” on the exclusive resort when the fire broke out around 4:00am.
She had been staying at the luxury compound with her daughter Mia, 10, and son Joe, 7, as personal guests of Branson’s, Ericka Souter, a staff writer at US Weekly, told ABCNews.com.
Each of the 20 houseguests staying at the complex were able to leave the burning house in safety, Branson said.
The exact cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is believed to have been caused by a lightning storm due to Hurricane Irene, with winds of about 80 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Branson was staying with his wife, Joan and son, Sam, in one of the five smaller Balinese-style villas that dot the island when the fire broke out. “I have lost thousands of photographs and my notebooks, which is very sad. But all family and friends are well — which, in the end, is all that really matters,” wrote the tycoon in a blog post on his website.
Branson said he intends to stay on the island and rebuild the house as soon as possible. ” We have a wonderful staff here and we want them to stay in work. We’ll all stay here. There’s a lot of damage but we’ll create something even more special out of the ruins,” he wrote.
Fire Hits Celebrity Enclave
Sir Richard Branson has owned the idyllic property, located in the British Virgin Islands, since 1978. The previously uninhabited island has since been developed to include a number of private villas, in addition to a main house, which can accommodate up to 28 guests at a time.
The ultra-exclusive Caribbean retreat is a long-standing favorite of Hollywood starlets, rock icons and heiresses of every stripe.
Necker Island is also a favorite of the royals, said Souter. “It’s a playground for royalty, and there are reports that Princess Diana and Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson both enjoyed time on the island.”
The island oasis is a popular wedding destination. Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, was married there in 2007 — the same year as comedian Jimmy Fallon — and newlyweds Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnilow recently celebrated their nuptials there as well.
The celebrity haven — which was the locale of the 2010 Victoria’s Secret Catalogue shoot — has also hosted Victoria and David Beckham (who reportedly celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on its private beaches), media magnate Oprah Winfrey, and leading men Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford, to name just a few.
A night at the resort can be had for about $47,000 a day complete with access to the staff of 60 (more than two staff members for each guest), as well as endless food, drink and resort activities.
Regardless of the hefty price tag, “it’s one of the most sought-after after Hollywood destinations,” said Souter. “It’s not like going to Jamaica — it’s secluded, it’s beautiful and private — it really is the perfect experience for a celebrity who wants to enjoy the sunshine and seclusion.”
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