Brando's Luxury Escape

May 2014

If you’re a fan of  the actor like I am, you’d have to investigate any eco-resort named after the iconic movie legend found on a tiny private island in the South Pacific.  Reached by air, 20 minutes from Papeete, Tetiaroa is the location of a sustainable Tahitian hideaway on what was once  Marlon Brando’s luxury escape.

Brandos Luxury Escape

The actor first discovered the island in 1960, after 5 Oscar nominations and the life changing movie, On The Waterfront.  During filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, Tahiti captured Brando’s heart, and coincided with the long, downward spiral of his falling out with Hollywood.  The 1200 acres of flora and fauna with endless coconut trees became the actors mission and escape. The lagoon, protected by outer coral reefs, looks to have some of the bluest water I have ever seen in these photographs by Tim McKenna.

brand's luxury escape

Fast forward to the 90’s and extensive research to build a self-sufficient resort relying only on renewable energy that included air conditioning fueled by seawater. Richard Bailey, a long established resident of Tahiti and fellow environmentalist agreed to help the actor achieve his dream.  The Brando , which will officially open July 1st, is a reflection of that initial legacy both men hoped to create.

brand's luxury escape

The resort is designed to reflect the Polynesian lifestyle and culture.  Management is committed to preserving and protecting the natural environment  and biodiversity, while maintaining a negligible carbon footprint.  35 villas circle the white sand beaches which are often visited by sea turtles, manta rays and exotic birds.


Structures blend into the surroundings and invite the outdoors in. Care has been taken during construction to treat the area with the highest level of respect.  All building materials used are of local or certified origin, renewable, or incorporated recycled components.   Large windows provide views of the lagoon, miki miki and coconut trees.  The private deck leads to a plunge pool.

The Varua Polynesian Spa is nestled on the shores of a pond where the Tahitian royal family relaxed and enjoyed many beauty rituals.  Holistic treatments are combined with modern techniques.  Yoga and a steam bath are options.

brand's sustainable luxury escape

Diving, snorkeling, bike riding and relaxation are on the list of activities.

Swim the lagoon along South Point to Turtle Beach.

Two restaurants showcase all that is fresh, local and delicious from the immediate area.  The award wining chef selects from the resorts organically grown fruits and vegetables in their gardens and orchards. An open air bar features spectacular views of the lagoon.  Several private tree-top seating areas can be reached by walking through the palm canopy.

Paddleboarding along South Point.

With an established research station on island, guests, as well as scientists, can learn about global warming and the protection of tropical atolls.  A hotel with intentions to leave the community in a better place than when they arrived, should indeed meet their goal of being a model for the rest of the world to follow.

All photos used with permission from The Brando.  Photography copyright Tim McKenna.


  1. Suerae Stein says:

    You always find the most exotic and incredible locales! This truly looks like paradise and goes above and beyond with the environmental concern. Thank you for sharing!

  2. What a beautiful place Tetiaroa is! I had no idea Marlon Brando travelled so far and actually thought Mutiny on the Bounty was filmed in a studio or near the US. What an iconic adventurer he was. Great post

  3. It’s amazing how real luxury can be so deceptively simple! While this is waaaaaay outside my budget travel lifestyle it gives me something to dream about… sigh!

  4. Donna Janke says:

    What a beautiful spot. I like the care that has gone into protecting the environment.

  5. The water is so clear and the turtles so colorful. It’s obvious why Marlon Brando loved this island. So can I expect photos of Johnny Depp’s island from you too someday?

  6. I will definitely be dreaming about this resort and Tahiti! The water is stunning and I love the resorts focus on the environment. Impressive!

  7. Sounds like a fantastic place from which to send a postcard!

  8. Michelle says:

    This area of the world is by far at the TOP of my travel bucket list! Bora Bora was #1 but I think Tetiaroa is a very close second!

  9. Wow! This looks like the kind of place I would really enjoy. It has all the elements of intrigue.

  10. Gorgeous! I would love to visit there. The water is incredibly clear and blue.