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Richard Branson launches new venture

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Sir Richard Branson is currently developing a high end resort on a 15-acre farm site in New Jersey. The project will feature a hotel, wine and cookery school, spa and restaurant and will rival Branson’s own Necker Island in luxury (media room, 4,000-square foot pool, croquet field and greenhouse, anyone?).

The resort will be called Natirar (named after the local Raritan river, in reverse) and cater to wealthy wine enthusiasts and gourmets or those simply looking to "reconnect with nature". The whole site totals 90 acres of land with a 99-year lease.

Natirar is the brainchild of Branson’s business partner, Bob Wojtowicz. The pair cooked up the joint venture while Wojtowicz was visiting Necker Island. He’d been working on Natirar since 2001 and found Branson an ideal ally in sealing the deal: the area is owned by the Moroccan royal family and Branson has already established a relationship with them through his resort in the Atlas mountains.

The first phase of the project, the Ninety Acres Culinary Center, opens on the 1 December. The restaurant will feature varied menu – from pizza to lobster – using primarily locally produced ingredients from the farm. Dishes will cost from $26 upwards.

The hotel is due to open in the summer of 2010.

Will it work? Well, RB has its doubts but if anyone can make it work, Slick Dick will.

Check out the website if you fancy a closer look: www.natirar.com

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