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The Brando, an ecoluxe resort in the heart of French Polynesia
2 Oct. 2023
2 Oct. 2023
30 miles north of Tahiti is a remote atoll in a lagoon so translucently blue you can see it from space. This is Tetiaroa, millions of years in the making by volcanoes rising from the ocean floor and protected by a barrier reef.
For centuries, it would be a guarded secret of the Pacific Ocean until, on a scout for locations for his 1963 movie Mutiny on the Bounty, actor Marlon Brando would come across it and never quite leave. He would lease it and later put the atoll in a trust to ensure its preservation long after he is gone.
From the outset, Marlon Brando’s ambition was to create an eco-friendly luxury hotel that would blend nature, culture and the authenticity of French Polynesia. In the end, however, it was his loved ones who, five years after his death, made his dream come true by starting the construction of the Brando in 2009. The hotel will open its doors five years later, in 2014.
The Brando is one of the world’s most secluded and luxurious island resorts.
For a start, the only way to get here is onboard the resort’s very own Air Tetiaroa, which takes off at Faa’a International Airport in Papeete, Tahiti. The flight is a short but spectacular 20-minute experience, and once you land, you’re met by staff who take you for a drink at the bar by the lagoon. An original check-in, to say the least!
With its 36 exclusive straw-roofed villas, hidden among the foliage of the rainforest, the Brando is, to say the least, a refuge in the heart of nature, ideal for a change of scenery and an escape.
And the stars were not mistaken. Margot Robbie, Leonardo di Caprio, Ellen de Generes… many of them frequent the hotel. Former US President Barack Obama even took up residence here for six weeks after leaving the White House to begin writing his memoirs.
Even before it was built, Le Brando was designed to fully respect the natural environment in which it is located. The hotel’s infrastructures are installed only on one of the 12 motus or islets that make up Tetiaroa, and none are on stilts, so as not to disturb the marine ecosystem.
Marlon Brando may be one of the greatest actors of the 20th century, but it’s often overlooked that he was also a man of commitment, an activist fascinated by renewable resources, organic farming and alternative energy, long before these terms were in the zeitgeist. In addition to its environmentally-friendly construction, the resort has set itself a mission: zero-carbon activity.
Each villa was built to use fewer resources and reduce waste.
Solar panels serve much of the resort’s energy needs and excess energy is even stored across lithium batteries to power the island at night.
Additionally, seawater is collected and desalinated to use in numerous ways across Tetiaroa. The system is efficient enough to provide drinking water and supply the resort’s swimming pools and laundry.
Another way The Brando uses its positioning in the middle of the South Pacific for greater good is its Sea Water Air Conditioning, which harnesses the cold of the ocean depths to provide low-energy cooling for its buildings. This reduces the energy consumption of air conditioning by almost 90%.
Together, these efforts led The Brando to become the first resort in the world to obtain LEED Platinum Certification, which is the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest accolade. The certification is campus-wide, encompassing all energy plants and outbuildings.
Its eco credentials aside, The Brando is also a unique place to indulge in the activities that island life in the middle of the Pacific has to offer.
Guided excursions, boat rides to the other motus, bird tours, reef quests and water sports…Activities are plentiful, especially as the atoll is surrounded by unoccupied islands.
There is also a lot of Polynesian art and life to be discovered, such as the traditional Polynesian dance, pareu dying, weaving coconut palm fronds and sharing in the love for the local music with the ukulele, pahu and tō’ere.
The hotel also organizes a fantastic “Green Tour”, giving guests a behind-the-scenes look at how the hotel manages to combine luxury and ecology.
Before his death, Marlon Brando had another initiative, which ultimately shaped the future of the atoll. He set up an “ocean university”, now the Tetiaroa Society, which sponsors researchers from around the world to come to the islets and study, preserve and further the unique ecosystems that exist here.
On land, the world’s largest terrestrial arthropod, the Coconut Crab, and a variety of other crabs are the dominant organisms.
In the air, 9 species of seabirds call Tetiaroa home, each carving out their own air space and feeding grounds.
During your stay, join The Brando’s naturalist guides on scheduled excursions on land, up in the air and below water, on a journey that touches on wildlife and flora but also archeology, culture and geology.
Location: Tetiaroa, French Polynesia
Getting here: Onboard Air Tetiaroa from Faa’a International Airport, Tahiti.
Villas come in four sizes: with one, two or three bedrooms, and there is also a residence with 3 bedrooms and 1 service room. Separate lounge and media area, outdoor relaxation area and infinity pool. Each villa is also equipped with a private hut or gazebo for al fresco dining.
Families with children are welcome. The Brando even offers nature-related activities for children aged 6 to 12 with its Lagoon School.
Best time to go: Between June and September, when the weather is dry and balmy.
At Lartisien, we carefully select our partner hotels to offer exceptional services during your stay. If you would like to book a stay at the Brando or another luxury hotel, please contact us for more information.