For seekers of an unparalleled island get-a-way that is once private, luxurious and eco-friendly, paradise is truly found at The Brando. Here are the top ten reasons to stay at The Brando and experience a place that will forever alter your ideas of heaven while still inhabiting the earth:
1. Complete privacy
Privacy begins with Air Tetiaroa’s private terminal and departure lounge in French Polynesia’s capital of Papeete at Faa’a international airport. From here an Islander BN turboprop, or de Havilland twin otter whisks you away for the 20-minute flight to Tetiaroa as your eyes attempt to focus on the countless shades of turquoise blue seen from 1,800-feet altitude.
On arrival at The Brando’s private airstrip, guests are warmly greeted and given a 15-minute tour of the resort by electric golf cart and then brought to their private bungalow villa where luggage has previously arrived and chilled champagne and macaroons prepared with island made honey await. With just 35 bungalow villas on the island and a guest maximum of 130, it truly feels like the Garden of Eden. To ensure privacy guests are requested not to photograph others without consent.
2. Incomparable beauty
Of the 12 motus – small islands – only one, the 190-acre Onetahi where The Brando is situated is habited. A short ride away by outrigger canoe or pontoon, the other motus, two of which are reserves, can be explored with naturalists.
Lush greenery, swaying coconut palms, tropical breezes, white sand beaches, impossibly blue and warm waters of Onetahi’s West Turtle Beach and resplendent marine life of South Mermaid Bay, all vie for your attention.
3. Luxury without pretense
The Brando’s 35 private bungalows are comprised of enormous one- and two-bedroom villas with one three-bedroom villa. Large picture windows to take in stunning blue waters are intoxicating. All villas contain massive bathrooms – far larger than my first east coast apartment – with rain showers. There is also an outdoor bathtub set amid verdant greenery. Beautifully decorated and furnished with natural palettes, the villas contain every conceivable amenity assuring complete comfort.
Villas also have WiFi and a separate large media room with an additional flat screen television, a work desk for those who must stay connected – though with the jaw-dropping views and all on offer at The Brando, working is admittedly a difficult task.
Each villa has an ocean facing plunge pool private and furnished deck giving private access to the white sand beach and provides as much privacy as guest’s desire. There is also a lovely outdoor covered dining area to enjoy and with 24-hour room service, mealtime or snack time is anytime your heart and stomach desire.
4. Eco-sustainable travel
Marlon was committed to French Polynesia, to the protection of Tetiaroa and to the surrounding habitat and it was his long-term dream to create a carbon neutral property. Just as Marlon imagined, The Brando took his sustainability dream and brought it to life.
The Brando invested heavily in SWAC – seawater air conditioning – that saves 90-percent of air-conditioning energy consumption costs. It also has 4,600 solar panels – the largest solar field in French Polynesia providing 100-percent of the property’s energy needs – a recycling center that includes a mechanical composter and glass crusher, a sewage plant, and reverse-osmosis desalination plant so large its internal filters are nearly 18-feet long. There are also 64 beehives that monthly produce 600-pounds of some of the finest honey imaginable.
5. Bird sanctuary and cultural activities
For ornithology fans, two of the nearby motus, Tahuna Iti and Tahuna Rahi, are tropical bird sanctuaries, home to 10 species of sea birds and four migrating birds. Guests can take excursions to these motus on a 36-foot pontoon with expert naturalists to see these birds firsthand.
If birds don’t float your boat, there are cultural activities including, ukulele lessons, weaving, Polynesian dance lessons and pareo painting. There is also the all-important lounging around to consider.
6. Snorkeling and diving
For those desiring additional snorkeling beyond that of South Mermaid Bay fronting Onetahi, The Brando has a two-hour Reef Quest Tour excursion. As this is a biodiversity sanctuary, there are plenty of tropical fish, corals and black tip sharks.
Certified divers can also see larger fish such as dogtooth tuna, spotted eagle rays, white tip and gray sharks.
7. Gourmet food
In addition to 24-hour room service, the oceanfront Beachcomber Café serves inspired breakfasts, lunches and dinners with both western and Polynesian fare. Fabulous fresh fish, salads, French baked goods and made-to-order pretty much anything you can think of. Naturally meals are coupled with excellent wines.
There are two bars, the romantic Te Manu upstairs in the main pavilion and Bob’s Bar – where lunch is also served – at the beach named after Marlon’s film set assistant. At Nami Japanese teppanyaki is served with the chef preparing dinner tableside. In this intimate setting with eight guests at each of the two evening seatings, dinners are served with sake pairings.
Chef Guy Martin of Paris’ two-star Michelin Le Grand Véfour oversees the Brando’s signature restaurant, Les Mutinés. This 20-seat gastronomic delight houses an ultramodern wine cellar in its overall structure shaped like an upside down sailboat. There are a la carte items and multi-course tasting menus with wine pairings that will leave you in a state of bliss. Mais oui.
8. Fitness made easy
The Brando has a 24-hour fitness center housing state-of-the-art equipment with trainers available. There is also a tennis court, and discovery walking trails. In addition to kayaks, outrigger canoes and paddleboards available to use, after her family’s visit to The Brando, Princess Charlotte left two water bikes. These strongly resemble Peloton spinning bikes on attached float boards and are incredibly fun to tool around Tetiaroa’s warm waters. Also, each villa comes with zippy French Arcade cruisers for getting around the island.
9. Wonderful spa
Walking into The Brando’s Varua Spa is like stepping into Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe novel. At the entrance is a large ethereal lotus blossom-filled pond. Suspension bridges carry guests above a plethora of exotic plants into one of several private treatment rooms constructed 20-feet above ground to look like birds’ nest.
Varua has a complete spa menu including several types of massage, scrubs, facials and beauty treatments, including signature couple experiences. Be forewarned however, once you enter this serenity haven, leaving will be a challenge.
10. French Polynesian hospitality
As The Brando has a team of 170 superbly trained, hospitable staff to just a maximum of 130 guests, guests experience a rare level of personalized service. This coupled with Polynesians’ natural generosity of spirit and ever-present smiles keep guests smiling.
The Brando is peaceful beyond measure. No small wonder President Obama came here for a month after his White House tenure to write his memoirs. A more peacefully perfect place on earth can’t even be imagined. The real risk of course is that as you leave The Brando, you will be plotting your return.
Julie L. Kessler is a journalist, attorney and legal columnist based in Los Angeles and the author of the award-winning travel memoir “Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at Julie@VagabondLawyer.com.