“Only the one who walks his own way can’t be overtaken” – Marlon Brando
In April 1789, Fletcher Christian, Acting Lieutenant of the HMS Bounty, led a mutiny and seized control of the ship from Captain William Bligh. Christian and his mutineers – risking death for treason – returned to the warmth and tropical comfort of Tahiti, and after having visited The Brando, I can’t blame them.
It is generally my aim to guide the reader through my experience of a luxury property, and conclude with my final thoughts. In this case, I’ll save you the suspense and offer that The Brando is quite simply the most luxurious, resplendent, memorable, and exquisite property I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. It is without peer and sets a new standard by which to judge luxury properties.
As of the date of this article, The Brando was recently honored as the “Best Resort in the World” in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards, receiving a dazzling overall score of 99.80. Click Here to read the article.
The Brando is a breathtaking ultra-luxury resort located in French Polynesia on Tetiaroa, a secluded and prestine private atoll (with twelve islets) thirty miles northeast of Tahiti. Click Here to view the location of The Brando on Google Maps.
Click on this YouTube video for a brief introduction and overview of this stunning property.
Tahiti and Marlon Brando
It is fair to speculate that if Fletcher Christian hadn’t taken the HMS Bounty and returned to Tahiti, The Brando may have never existed. The story of the famous mutiny has been the subject of many books and films, and in 1960, Marlon Brando was cast as Christian in the film Mutiny on the Bounty.
Brando first came upon Tetiaroa while scouting film locations in Tahiti, and enamored with its beauty, he returned once filming was completed. Ironically, Captain Bligh is reported to have guided the HMS Bounty to Tetiaroa to search for earlier mutineers prior to departing Tahiti (and prior to the actual muntiny at sea).
Interestingly, in 1904, the royal family of Tahiti gifted Tetiaroa to Tahiti’s only dentist, Johnston Walter Williams (the lagoon and surrounding reef remained – as today – the property of French Polynesia). Brando eventually purchased Tetiaroa (its islets) from a descendant of Williams.
In 1970, Brando built a small village on the Motu Onetahi islet using local materials, constructing a dozen bungalows, kitchen, dining hall, and bar. This village eventually became a modest hotel managed by his Tahitian wife Tarita Teripaia, who had played his onscreen love interest in Mutiny on the Bounty. Brando stressed ecology, preservation, and love of the natural land while operating the hotel, inviting many friends and family to the land over the years to share his gift.
Brando passed away in 2004, and in keeping with his desire to retain the land and share it with others, his estate entered into an agreement with Pacific Beachcomber. The result of the collaboration between the Brando Family and the hotel company is The Brando. Click Here for a YouTube video discussing this partnership.
Traveling to The Brando requires first traveling to French Polynesia – the international airport, located in Papeete. From there you will be welcomed by a private driver and delivered a short distance (just a few hundred yards) to the private airline serving The Brando, aptly named Air Tetiaroa. Upon booking your visit to The Brando, the property will also book your private air travel to and from Tetiaroa.
The flight time to Tetiaroa is approximately 20-30 minutes, but the flight offers views that mystify and amaze to such an extent that you wish the flight would never end. It’s peacefully spectacular, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The spectrum of blues and greens, punctuated by ivory sands and alabaster clouds, seems boundless.
Arriving at Paradise
There are greetings, and then there is the greeting a guest recieves at The Brando. The greeting is traditional Tahitian, complete with Tiare (Tahiti’s famous and fragrant flower) scented moist towels, native Tahitians in traditional garb, regaling guests in song. I immediately questioned my inane decision to not stay on property longer.
The Brando features 35 villas – one, two, or three bedroom – and every villa includes world class appointments, bicycles, a private negative edge splash pool, outdoor – yet private – bath, private outside dining (villa dining by server optional), and an impossibly magnificent powder-white sand private beach and your personal slice of the lukewarm Pacific Ocean. Ultra-luxurious. I once again questioned my decision not to stay longer.
Click Here to view a YouTube video of our villa.
A centerpiece of the property is Bob’s Bar. “Bob” was an old friend of Brando’s who helped to operate the old hotel. Well, Bob is my new favorite person, because Bob’s Bar is a heartbeat of the property, constructed with local materials, and a shell’s throw from the beachfront. Cocktails are diligently designed, and crafted with fresh ingredients, as I was most pleased to sample! Ladies will also be most delighted to learn that for some cockails, you have the option of pairing a cocktail with a piece of jewelry. Serious luxury.
Click Here to view my YouTube video of Mojito-Making at Bob’s Bar!
Click Here to view my YouTube video of Bob’s Bar at night with music and dancing.
The Brando features two restaurants (of course with an in-room dining option), which both showcase a combination of Polynesian-inspired dishes, East/West fusion and classic French cuisine. The cuisine of Michelin Chef Guy Martin (Le Grand Véfour in Paris) is prominently featured in all dining areas, most notably in the property’s signature dining space Les Muntinés by Guy Martin. We had the fortune of dining at Les Muntinés, which offers an inventive and vibrant selection of menu items, all of course featuring delectably fresh ingredients. Best dessert I’ve ever enjoyed.
We also dined at the Beachcomber Cafe, which offers similar cuisine, but in a less formal environment – think beach and lagoon views all around. Just wow. Check out my King Crab Caesar Salad. Yummmmmm!
Varua Spa and Pool
The Brando sets a new standard in luxury spas with Varua, featuring a variety of uniquely French Polynesian architecture, layout, ingredients, and treatments. My favorite feature is the design of the treatment rooms as bird nests, just extravagant. Click Here to view the Varua Brochure.
The Brando also features a dramatic and downright awesome main negative edge pool that casts a broad footprint overlooking the lagoon. Talk about getting lost in paradise. Yes please!
As mentioned earlier, Tetiaroa is an atoll with thirteen islets, and The Brando offers daily excursions by boat to see much of what Brando fell in love with. Guests are guided onto a boat, and you are soon rushing over the iridescent Tahtian waters, foam splashing your face, which if you could see yourself, would reveal a sense of wonder and contentment you never new existed.
We walked onto islets, and wandered in the shallow lagoon while the boat bobbed and slid across the water beyond.
The allure of Tahiti, and its promise of paradise found has cast its spell over visitors for centuries. It is little wonder why Fletcher Christian and Marlon Brando – connected forever in time and history – desired immersion in this magical and deeply spiritual place. The waves and winds erode the strictures of the conventional life, stripping away layers of anxiety and restlessness, inducing a serenity the visitor will forever hold tight in feeling and memory.
Words cannot fully articulate how I felt while at The Brando, so I’ll simply show you. And if you ever have the chance to go yourself, take it, and look outward toward the lagoon from your villa. You’ll never forget what you see.
The Brando – Location and Social
Click on the links below to further learn about and connect with The Brando:
Thanks so very much to everyone at The Brando, especially to Jean-Philippe on property. I would also like to thank Vanessa for making this visit possible, and for the use of some of your high resolution images!
Please take note that the property welcomed me as a special media guest, but that my opinions are, as always, entirely my own.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this article, and happy dining and traveling!