At a Glance
The late Marlon Brando once said that “Tetiaroa is beautiful beyond my capacity to describe. One could say that Tetiaroa is the tincture of the South Seas.” And The Brando, the ultra-luxe private-island resort he created on the atoll in French Polynesia, 33 miles from Tahiti, has that same effect on those fortunate enough to experience it. Dedicated to offering the most luxurious, authentic and enriching travel experiences available, the one-of-a-kind resort, with white-sand beaches and turquoise water as far as the eye can see, has 36 stylish (and spacious) accommodations, including four two-bedroom villas, one three-bedroom villa and a residence—all designed with local materials and traditional Polynesian techniques—plus a new menu by chef Jean Imbert. The resort also happens to be solar-powered and LEED-certified, and the Tetiaroa Society, the Brando’s nonprofit, researches and preserves local flora and fauna. Guests can explore by kayaking, boat and reef trips with Tetiaroa Society guides. Robinson Crusoe couldn’t have imagined it any better.
The Standout: The resort’s low-impact, sustainable, regenerative focus, which doesn’t sacrifice on luxury
Don’t Miss: A private boat trip with stops at a bird sanctuary, a primitive forest and a shark nursery
- The spacious and stylish villas, each with a private plunge pool and garden
- The ultra-luxe all-inclusive approach, which includes top-shelf alcohol, vintage wines and gourmet cuisine and outstanding dining on demand
- The environmental programs, which inform (and sustain) almost every aspect of the resort
Marlon Brando’s private island paradise has been transformed into an eco-luxury resort, and every element of The Brando, from the sumptuous villas to the beautiful landscape and warm local staff, is top-notch. Visit, and you’ll see that the sheer natural beauty of this atoll in the South Pacific, just 33 miles from Tahiti, is enough to make a hermit out of anyone. After shooting the film Mutiny on the Bounty in 1962, Marlon Brando married his Polynesian co-star, Tarita, bought a remote French Polynesian atoll and spent much of the next few decades living there in relative isolation.
Today, Tetiaroa Island pays homage to the film star. In the years leading up to the hotel’s opening in 2014, Marlon Brando was said to have played an integral role in the development and philosophy of the property. Perhaps most importantly, the actor insisted that the resort preserve the atoll’s rich ecosystem and promote scientific research through a non-profit organization, the Tetiaroa Society. Environmentalists at heart, Marlon and Tarita were running a small, five-bungalow hotel with no electricity when the actor approached French Polynesia’s largest hotel developer to explore the possibility of creating a luxury resort. And so The Brando, a private island resort as luxurious as it is environmentally progressive, was born.
Many properties deem themselves “green” or environmentally friendly, but the level to which The Brando takes its sustainability is truly remarkable. In 2016, the resort announced its LEED Platinum certification (it is the first project to earn this accolade in French Polynesia) and the property employs and provides housing for engineers, naturalists and scientists to carry out environmental projects, which range from maintaining the island’s 4,200 solar panels (which provide up to 70 percent of the power on the island) to its seawater-pumping facility, an innovative technology championed by Brando himself that recycles deep seawater through air-conditioning units to create an alternative cooling system on property. Guests can learn more about these initiatives on the hotel’s Green Tour, a fascinating experience for those interested in sustainability and its harmoniously blend with the operations of a luxury hotel.
The hotel has just 35 accommodations—30 one-bedroom villas and five two- and three-bedroom villas and one residence, all of which are located on the beach. There are no overwater bungalows here. The villas are located in two areas of the island: the "sunset side" of the cove, which is steps from a coral garden (great for snorkeling), and Mermaid Bay, which sits on a stretch of taupe sand (best for swimming and wading). The rooms are massive and have handsome mid-century furniture, a plunge pool and a garden area.
The Brando features an all-inclusive pricing model, which, while steep at first glance, is a great value, considering rates include top-shelf alcohol, vintage wines and gourmet cuisine by two-Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin, of Paris’ Le Grand Véfour. Thanks to the all-inclusive system, guests have anything (and everything) available to them at no additional cost: a seamless luxury that exemplifies the overall Brando experience.
The resort offers complimentary group activities, and the Ultimate Tetiaroa Tour is a favorite. This three-hour adventure cruises through the atoll’s emerald waters with stops at a bird island, a primitive forest (where your naturalist will hunt down a coconut crab for you) and a shark nursery, where, besides chasing down infant sharks in shallow waters, you can enjoy a natural spa treatment from the area’s therapeutic sands. Wellness seekers, too, will appreciate the Brando’s full-service spa, which features the island’s local products.
The Brando’s staff is the heart and soul of the resort. Most of the 150 staff members hail from French Polynesia, and their pride of place is unmistakable. As is expected on a remote island, staff members wear multiple hats (for example, your bar attendant could be serving you a cocktail and, 10 minutes later, be performing in native costume with the hotel’s Polynesian show). There is a real sense of community at the Brando, and it’s clear that the philosophies and ideals Marlon Brando fought to preserve are not only respected, but expertly executed here.
Who Should Stay
Those with a taste for exclusivity will gravitate to this private island resort. Beyond the literal and figurative Champagne and caviar on offer, however, The Brando is remarkably down-to-earth in its ecologically sustainable approach. Whether or not you take interest in the resort’s green initiatives, the property will win you over with its luxuriousness and flawless execution.
Good To Know
The Brando’s plane transports departing guests to Tahiti before sundown, and departing international flights are typically close to midnight; as a result, guests will likely have a long layover in Tahiti. It’s worth booking a room at the Intercontinental Tahiti (from the same owner as The Brando, which is just a five-minute drive from the airport), as a place to relax and freshen up. The Papeete airport is tiny and has no lounges.
Indagare Impact hotels have been carefully vetted according to our Sustainable Hotel Standards.
It’s hard to overstate the impact the Brando has had on conservation relative to the size of the property. The revolutionary cooling system, which pumps cold water from the ocean floor, is being examined by cities all over the world for its potential ramifications on energy use, and that’s but one of the multitude of ways the property ensures its operations impact the island and the world as little as possible. The hotel also manages two not-for-profit arms: The Tetiaroa Society and Blue Climate Initiative, which seek to protect local wildlife and create educational opportunities for islander children.
— Janine Yu
Written by Indagare