A Necker guide to running an island

It’s not an easy job keeping Necker Island running, but Keny and Leesa Jones have been Necker Island General Managers since 2010. Whilst overseeing the running of probably the most famous luxury island in the world would be tough by anyone’s standards, Keny and Leesa have managed to split their time successfully between running the island and raising their two young children.

We found a moment to track Leesa down for a quick chat and asked her to give us her take on running a business as a family.  

How long have you both worked for Virgin?

I’ve worked for Virgin since September 1998 and Keny has worked for Virgin since October 2003.

How did you two meet?

On Necker. I was on the boat that picked him (Keny) up from the airport when he arrived to start work. As we drove away from the dock, a school of dolphins swam around the boat. It was amazing and the only time I have seen so many! We didn't get together until six months later.

Did Richard play cupid?

Yes, he loves being a match maker and getting people together! It was really fun, although we managed to keep it secret for a couple of months as in a small environment like that on Necker you can become a couple before you know it! We were soon busted though, and had to share our new romance.

What are you most proud of achieving as a couple?

Our wonderful children are definitely number one, but also the amazing developments we have worked on throughout our careers both at Necker and Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco. It has been challenging, but fun.

What has been the biggest challenge you have both had to overcome together?

Definitely the year following the fire in the Great House on Necker. It was a challenge keeping everything going so that we could still attract and welcome our guests and ultimately keep our team employed. It was a hugely emotional time but we all pulled together and it worked out so well, and now Necker is stronger than ever.

What are the benefits of working so closely together?

We love working together. It is how we met and how we roll! I have recently stepped back slightly from our GM role, however we are still very much a team and support each other through all aspects of our life, at work and at home.

What advice would you give to families living and working together?

Keep a balance and make sure you take time out away from it all. Work and home need to have a separation so that you switch off. Even if it is just one day a week, it is really important for your relationship and family life.

How do you foster that ‘family feeling’ across the whole island?

Keep it as fun as possible! There is always a line to draw but my advice would be to look after your team and they will be happy and focused on their job. We are a big team working on a small island, so it would be very easy to just focus on your own busy day, but we ensure the teams are thinking of each other as well. Keep communication as a priority, which is harder than it sounds, but our management team are close and care about their teams and each other.

Our house is nicknamed 'Cafe Jones' and some of the staff call me Island Mum! I love it and we (including our children) love them all it is such a fun environment, we are very lucky!

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