The Brando- The Ultimate Luxury Eco-Resort
Made up of 118 different islands, French Polynesia is synonymous with exotic, off-the-grid, and jaw-dropping shades of crystal blue waters. This island nation has been the backdrop for an endless number of celebrations, movies, and events, including the famous Mutiny on the Bounty that brought American actor Marlon Brando to Tahiti in the 1960’s.
Mr Brando fell in love with the country and purchased the island of Tetiaroa, a small group of islets about 30 miles off the coast of Tahiti that had previously been the private residence of Tahiti’s royal families.
Bearing a true desire to conserve and protect the true nature of the island, Tetiaroa has been developed into the ultimate luxury eco-resort, which opened in July of 2014 and was fittingly named The Brando. A visit to The Brando is truly a life-changing adventure, and the fun begins when you walk into the private airport lounge for your flight to Tetiaroa. The Brando is accessible via a 20-minute flight on a private plane from Tahiti with Air Tetiaroa, and you’ll want to have your camera handy when you first spot the resort from above!
Villas to Swoon Over
The all-inclusive resort features 35 deluxe villas, each with its own private stretch of pristine white-sand beach and plunge pool. With a no-expense-spared feel and understated Polynesian elegance, your new residence and the amazing resort staff seem to anticipate your every need. Thanks to a questionnaire that guests receive prior to their visit, you arrive to a minibar stocked (and replenished daily) to your liking, welcome amenities, slippers and beach sandals in your correct size, beach bags, and other personalized goodies that ensure your villa feels like home. You will also find bicycles awaiting each guest, even special smaller ones with training wheels for the younger guests! It’s a wonderful way to learn your way around the island and the resort. Our youngest actually had his first-ever bike ride in this paradise, which definitely set the bar high for this next ride. Yikes!
The villas at The Brando are absolute paradise for families. Children will enjoy a warm welcome with sand toys, back packs, hats, and more. And the spacious villas allow plenty of room for everyone to have their own space, making it an ideal place to “work from home” AND play. Each bedroom boasts its own sprawling dressing room, en suite bathroom with outdoor tub, and balcony or terrace. The private beach directly on the lagoon allows for parents to kick back and relax, as the kids frolic and hunt for hermit crabs.
Cuisine & Cocktails
The dining options at The Brando are as impressive as its villas. With three different restaurants and two bars to choose from, there is a delight for every palate. At the Beachcomber Café, you can dine indoors or directly on the sand with the most heavenly views of the lagoon and ocean beyond. You can visit the Beachcomber for a tasty breakfast, where portions are on the smaller side making it easy to try several dishes. Make sure you taste the locally-sourced honey on one of their delicious pastries. Simply heavenly! The restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner, serving a variety of locally-inspired Polynesian and French cuisine.
A more intimate and elegant dining venue can be found at Les Mutinés, which is open for dinner and serves fine French cuisine. You have the option of a fixed degustation menu or ordering a la carte, and don’t forget to order a bottle from the impressive wine cellar.
The newest addition to The Brando’s dining venue, Nami, is also its most unique. Prepare for a feast of the senses while Chef Nakamura prepares an authentic Japanese teppanyaki meal before your very eyes. You can choose from three different menus of carefully selected and prepared meat and seafood dishes, complete with a large selection of sakes and beers and wines from around the globe.
All of the restaurants on-site welcome children, with a carefully crafted menu that includes a healthy variety of options to please even the pickiest of the bunch. From the more commonly requested burgers and chicken nuggets to more robust pastas and steak dishes, both children and their parents will be pleased.
Last, but certainly not least, I recommend that you pay a visit to one of the two bars on property. Whether you choose the Te Manu bar with its treetop feel and epic sunset views, or Bob’s bar with its laidback vibe and beachfront setting, do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on some of the most delicious and creative cocktails you will ever experience.
Pick one from their menu or allow the bartender to whip something up according to your cravings. The bar staff takes pride in their divine creations, and many of them have become award-winning recipes. Regardless of what you try, you can’t go wrong with any of them. They even serve “mocktails” for the younger patrons, made with fresh local fruits and blended to perfection. You will find yourself coming back for seconds!
More Than A Resort
To call The Brando a resort is simply one of the biggest understatements in travel, because quite frankly it is so much more. The island of Tetiaroa and Pacific Beachcomber, the company that runs it, have a deep rooted commitment to ecotourism, enhancing biodiversity, celebrating and supporting cultural heritage, and giving back to the local people. Tetiaroa not only houses the villas and structures that welcomes guests to The Brando; this 12-motu (islet) island is also home to various non-profit organizations that seek to learn about and protect the natural environment of Tetiaroa and its native wildlife-Tetiaroa Society and Te Mana o Te Moana. With solar panels that line the runway and systems that draw in cold waters from the ocean to cool the resort and conserve energy, the island and the resort are completely self-sustainable and can in fact serve as a perfect example of what is possible for sustainable tourism.
When visiting a place as distinctive as The Brando, you are bound to experience some unique adventures. The activities available in Tetiaroa range from educational and nature based to cultural to romantic. Despite the seclusion of the this exceptional resort, you would be hard-pressed to not find yourself longing for more time to do and see all that this island has to offer.
We thoroughly enjoyed “The Ultimate Tour”, a 2.5 hour excursion where we learned about the rich ecosystems on some of the island’s motus. We were whisked away by boat and saw blue-footed boobies up close, learned about strawberry and coconut crabs, and even swam with a stingray! They offer a myriad of tours and lectures to choose from, both on land or in the sea. You can also go on a whale watching excursion, scuba diving, and deep sea fishing.
Tetiaroa is a nesting site for green turtles. If you’re lucky enough to visit from October to April, let the staff know you’re interested, and they notify you when the turtle eggs hatch.
If you’re traveling with little ones, prepare yourself for the ultimate “worldschooling” sessions. The Lagoon School at The Brando is unlike any kids program we have ever encountered. Filled with hands-on learning, the lagoon school combines educational topics with exploration of the island, where children can learn while they play. The school offers half day sessions daily for children ages 6 to 12. Have kiddos that are younger than 6? Don’t worry. The Brando Concierge will ensure that they will want for nothing. The resort happily provides baby cots, monitors, strollers, high chairs, changing tables, bike child seats, and babysitting services. The Brando truly stops at nothing to make a visit ideal for every guest, including parents. While there are many ways to spend quality time together on Tetiaroa, their facilities for children also cater to parents who may want to indulge in a little adult time. So even with younger children, parents are able to reconnect and even indulge in a spa experience at the unique Varua Te Ora spa while the children have their own adventures.
The Brando is exclusive, with a long list of patrons that include celebrities from around the world, and its status is well-deserved. It’s quite honestly a little slice of heaven in French Polynesia. You will feel that the staff has thought of everything to make your stay magical! So if you are fortunate enough to be planning a visit to this amazing resort destination, my best advice is to book the extra night or two that you’re considering. You won’t regret it!