Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

The Brando

French Polynesia

Marlon Brando fell in love with Tetiaroa, and so will you

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Enjoy up to a 15% discount on daily villa rates when you book the incredible The Brando with Luxury Explorer, valid on stays until June 30th 2018.

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The Brando
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The Brando

Location

Nestled on the Tetiaroa atoll, 30 miles from Tahiti.

Travel Information

Approximately a 20 minute plane journey from Tahiti's Faa'a International airport.

Top Tips

Explore this pristine lagoon, islets and coral reef, teeming with tropical fish. Watersports of all sorts are de rigeur.

5-Star X-Factors

Paradise in the South Pacific

A bounty worth the mutiny

I’ve just returned from paradise. A faraway place so beautiful that it sears its breathtaking reflection into your memory. A rare place that combines pristine wilderness and its teeming wildlife with deep comfort and conscience. A place where the locals have the widest smiles, the warmest welcome and a natural gift for hospitality. A place where visitors tread lightly. I’ve just returned from The Brando in French Polynesia.

This 5-star resort hotel is located on the picture perfect atoll of Tetiaroa, the former home of Marlon Brando, just 30 miles from Tahiti, deep in the South Pacific.

​A secluded paradise

There is a frisson on sighting Tetiaroa from the air for the first time. Twelve islets, or 'motu', are circled by a coral reef that traces the line of an ancient volcano’s sunken caldera. At the reef edge, the royal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean meet the turquoise waters of the atoll’s lagoon, with pounding waves announcing their meeting with a line of white spray. Each motu is perfectly palm-fronded and ringed by the whitest of sand beaches. Just one, the home of the hotel, is inhabited and the runway is really the only perceptible sign of life. All the others are nature reserves.

Hidden among the palms are 35 beach-facing villas; elegant one and two bedroom traditionally styled cottages, surrounded by sweet scented tiare bushes, all with private plunge pool and direct beach access. It goes without saying that the villas are equipped with every comfort you might expect; a vast bath and dressing area, media room, outdoor deck and dining area, stacks of soft rolled up beach towels and two bikes by the front door for getting about the motu.

The grander luxury however lies just beyond the plunge pool and the bed for sundowners or stargazing. The lagoon water, still and translucent, glowing aqua in the sunlight draws you to it. It constantly demands your attention. You wonder if you have ever seen anything quite so intensely blue, so intensely beautiful. You can’t resist. The comforts of the villa are soon ignored. You venture to the shore for the first time, blinking unaccustomed to the brightness, your feet unused to the warm sand. Relief at last as your feet find the relative coolness of the lagoon. You look at the horizon where the waves of the ocean are hypnotically breaking on the edge of the reef, then look down. You double take. Is that a dorsal fin just three feet away from the shore? Just a harmless baby lemon shark you are assured and you soon return to alternating your gaze between the rainbow of fish at your feet and the inconceivable blues above. Immediately you are completely absorbed by the wonder of your extraordinary surroundings. Soon all you want to do is be immersed in that limpid blueness...

The lagoon is the playground for your stay and while it is tempting not to leave your villa, the impulse to explore is too great. The hotel offers tours of the lagoon above and below the water, nature tours, birding tours, eco tours, even archeological tours. Alternatively, the unbelievably good looking team at the water sport centre will help you explore the lagoon using whatever is your preferred means of transport.

After all that activity thoughts naturally turn to food. The hotel has two restaurants, offering Polynesian-inspired dishes, classic French cuisine and a menu of international crowd pleasers. Guy Martin’s award winning cuisine of the two Michelin starred restaurant Le Grand Vefour in Paris is featured in both dining venues and in-villa dining. Such being the comfort and views from the gazebo-shaded eating area of our villa we, (and I suspect many other guests), frequently opted to eat in. The gourmet restaurant, housed in a beautiful sail like structure with its extensive wine list and inventive dishes, however proved good reason to stir from our sybaritic stupor.

​Sundowners on your own stretch of beach

Two bars, one on the beach, the other on stilts, with birds’ nest nooks for enjoying Mai Thais at sunset complete the scene. Although the vast double outdoor bed of your villa overlooking the beach and the distant mountains of neighbouring Tahiti and Moorea is the only place you want to be at sunset.

The Brando was created with a sustainable philosophy that Marlon Brando himself dreamt of and has in turn received many environmental awards. It has established a non-profit organisation on the island, the Tetiaroa Society, on whose board sit eminent scientists, whose mandate is to conserve, restore and protect the atoll and make it a model for sustainability that can be replicated elsewhere. One of the advantages of having resident scientists at the hotel is that there are no mosquitoes on the island, achieved through breeding infertile mosquitoes rather than any chemical means. Another advantage is that room service offers you the option (in season) of releasing newly hatched turtles to the ocean. As luck would have it a nest hatched on ‘our’ beach and, pyjama-clad, we joined the scientists at first light in guiding the baby turtles to the sea, helping them navigate away from the distracting lights of the resort.

​Fit for mermaids

It was not a dream of mine to visit the Brando, we were just passing. Having been, it should have been. I hadn’t expected to be quite so seduced by its Polynesian charms. It’s not just any other luxury island resort. There is something about its remoteness; a tiny dot of coral lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; its deep connection with its environment and the happy relationship with the local Polynesians that make it extraordinary. It is also staggeringly beautiful. As Marlon Brando himself once said of the atoll, “If the mermaids can’t sing for me here, Christ they never will.”

We visited the Brando as part of a longer trip throughout the South Pacific. Tahiti, connected by five hour long flights with New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island offers the most wonderful itinerary possibilities. Travelling directly, the most direct route from the UK is via Los Angeles, from where the flight to Tahiti is about 9 hours.

Sarah  Surtees
Sarah Surtees


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer