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Resort Review: The Brando on Tetiaroa

An idyllic Polynesian locale of swaying palm trees, white sand beaches, and a tranquil lagoon, describe this island retreat is the epitome of paradise. On one of a dozen islands surrounding a three-mile wide lagoon, on Tetiaroa, sits The Brando. Those of us at Tahitian Vacations believe it’s one of the most luxurious resorts anywhere in the world.

Once the exclusive retreat of Tahitian royalty, this luxury resort mixes Polynesian tranquility with environmental sustainability, woven seamlessly into a lavish experience for those guests fortunate enough to visit.

A Famous Past & Present

The atoll of Tetiaroa is deeply rooted in the culture of native Tahitians. The island was sacred to local people, and they created a sanctuary where the gods and ancestors would come down to visit. The ancient temples built by early Polynesians can still be found around the atoll. The islands were also a retreat for native Tahitian chiefs.

More recently, the actor Marlon Brando saw the island while filming Mutiny on the Bounty in 1960. He was so enchanted by the island beauty, he needed to own a piece of it. In 1967, he succeeded and purchased the atoll.

Brando was passionate about preserving the natural beauty and maintaining cultural significance.

“My mind is always soothed when I imagine myself sitting on my South Sea island at night,” said Brando.

“If I have my way, Tetiaroa will remain forever a place that reminds Tahitians of what they are and what they were centuries ago.”

In 1999, Brando asked long time Tahiti resident and resort creator Richard Baily to help create an environmentally conscious luxury resort. The result of their shared vision was The Brando.

Finest Luxury

The resort today contains 35 beautifully appointed villas tucked along the island’s beautiful white sand beaches. Set back from the water among coconut palms, these secluded accommodations exude luxury. Guests can choose from one, two, or three bedroom villas complete with a media room and a private pool.

Each villa comes with its own bicycles that can be used for exploring the island or packing a picnic to a private beach. Other activities include sailing on the three-mile wide lagoon, paddleboarding or kayaking to a neighboring motu. Guests wishing to take in more of the wild beauty of the islands can enjoy a guided or unguided cultural, bird or marine excursion.

Visitors wishing for additional pampering can head to the on-site Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa. This tranquil oasis is nestled seamlessly into the surrounding natural vegetation. Treatments are inspired by ancient Polynesian techniques blended with international holistic treatments. The result is a spa and its treatments that blend effortlessly into the island’s tranquil charm.

Artful Cuisine

The resort’s two restaurants feature dishes created by Guy Martin of the Michelin two-star Le Grand Vefour of Paris. Inspiration for his dishes comes from local Polynesian flavors and classical French cuisine. Dishes are crafted using organic, locally grown, and sustainable ingredients sourced from the resort’s very own gardens and orchards. Fish and shellfish are sourced from the Polynesian waters that surround the resort.

The Beachcomber Café invites its guests to sample some local flavors while showcasing breathtaking views of the lagoon and ocean. Les Mutinés by Guy Martin is an intimate space that features an extensive wine menu and the same attention to detail that has made his Le Gran Vefour one of Paris’ top culinary delights.


The natural beauty and stunning ecological diversity that drew Marlon Brando to the atoll in the sixties can still be observed today. The resort has made its name for itself regarding sustainability of its pristine surroundings.

The reef surrounding Tetiaroa features large coral beds and is home to at least 167 different species of fish. The seas just outside the reef are home to whales during their migration and pods of dolphins in deeper water. Sea turtles make use of the pristine beaches, as they come to lay their eggs on the sands beneath the trees.

One of the favorite motus for visitors is Tahuna Iti, or “Bird Island” where thousands of birds make their home every night. A variety of species, from parrots to solitary frigates, take refuge in the island’s dense vegetation.

The Brando mixes luxurious details with its pristine natural surroundings to create a resort experience unlike any other in the South Pacific. Its harmonious existence serves to highlight the natural beauty of the area with all the modern, yet sustainable, luxury amenities you’d expect from a five-star getaway.