10 Things You Should Know about
The Brando Resort
On a Saturday morning last June, my sneaky husband surprised the boys and me with a trip to French Polynesia. We knew we were going somewhere. He said to pack swimsuits and sandals and sunscreen. But he said we wouldn't need our passports and I figured we were going to Florida or Hawaii. Then he handed us a wrapped package. Inside were our passports with a sticky-note attached which read, "Sorry, I lied." Also in the box was a key drive with a video of The Brando Resort in Tetiaroa. Well, I was speechless. I should have figured he had something utterly over-the-top in mind for our 25th wedding anniversary!
This wasn't our first trip to French Polynesia, it was the third in fact. I've previously written Moorea and Bora Bora with Kids, a wonderful multi-generational getaway with my parents and some friends. And also French Polynesia on a Budget, tips for how and where to stay. I get a lot of questions about The Brando every time I mention it on Instagram, so I've decided to share our experience here on the blog. Yes, it was probably the dreamiest, most spectacular (and most expensive) place we’ve ever stayed. Island vacations now have a new standard in our family. But in addition to complete luxury, The Brando is an exceptional place for unexpected reasons. Keep reading to find out ten things you should know about The Brando.
1. You can only get to Tetiaroa on The Brando’s private airplane.
Yes, it’s true. While most of the other islands in the French Polynesia archipelago are serviced by Air Tahiti Nui and other airlines, Tetiaroa has only one resort, The Brando, and only one way to get there, their private airplane. They have a separate terminal in Papette, Tahiti from which they make the 20-minute flight twice a day. Tetiaroa is approximately 30 miles from Tahiti. Side note: The Brando doesn't include the flight in your stay. You have to pay for it separately. During our visit, they were running a special where kids fly free.
2. Tetiaroa is more than a single island.
Part of the Society Islands in the South Pacific, this small atoll is made up of a dozen islands that surround a giant lagoon. While The Brando is located on one of the islands along with the airstrip, the other surrounding islands are bird sanctuaries and have no structures or people living on them.
3. The Brando is named after the famous actor, Marlon Brando.
Marlon Brando first came to Tetiaroa while filming Mutiny on the Bounty. He instantly fell in love with the place. While we may remember Brando for The Godfather or A Street Car Named Desire, in Tahiti, Brando is known for this piece of land that he purchased. It wasn't easy though. In 1966, after several failed attempts, he was finally able to acquire the 99-year lease that granted him exclusive "ownership" of Tetiaroa. At first, Tetiaroa served as a private hideaway from his life in the Hollywood spotlight. His dream was to preserve the islands in their purest condition and allow others to enjoy them too. He was quoted in saying, “My mind is always soothed when I imagine myself sitting on my South Sea island at night. If I have my way, Tetiaroa will remain forever a place that reminds Tahitians of what they are and what they were centuries ago.” But Marlon Brando never visited his own resort. He died in 2004, and The Brando opened for business ten years later in 2014.
4. The Brando is an environmentalist's dream.
The Brando has big goals for itself, and that includes being 100% energy independent. They want to be the world's most luxurious and entirely eco-friendly resort. During our stay, we took a free tour offered by the resort to learn about all their eco-friendly efforts. For electricity, they are using a combination of solar panels and generators fueled by coconut oil. And to power their air conditioners throughout all the buildings, they are using a revolutionary technology known as seawater air conditioning (SWAC). It uses deep seawater which comes up from the ocean floor through large tubes and then is distributed throughout the resort. Solar heating provides all the island's hot water. We each received a Brando signature water flask upon arrival and refilling water stations were located throughout the resort. This is their solution to cut back on plastic waste.
5. Bungalows are More Like Houses.
At The Brando, accommodations come in one size, big! There are 35 private villas to choose from. Some are one-bedroom, some are two-bedroom, and one is a large three-bedroom. Each has its own plunge pool, outdoor eating palapa, a private area leading to the beach and each sits on its own half acre lot. We opted for the one-bedroom because of cost, but it was plenty of room for the four of us. I think it might have been more massive than our first apartment. There was a living room, study, master bedroom, and an enormous bathroom. The study was made up of two twin beds for the boys.
6. Service is off-the-rails.
We're no stranger to luxury resorts. In the past, Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton resorts have been our favorites when looking for something extra special. But The Brando just may have exceeded all expectations for luxury. Our bungalow was serviced three times a day. That meant beds made, floors swept, fresh flowers and fruit delivered, etc. Every afternoon at 4:00 pm, we received an afternoon appetizer delivered to our living room. Groundskeepers were continually picking up fallen leaves and raking the sand on our half-acre parcel. When we first arrived, we were delighted to find that each member of our family has their own snorkel gear with water shoes in all our correct sizes lined up for our use. We were able to call for a paddleboard, kayak, or outrigger canoe to be delivered to our beach from the activity desk.
7. Barak Obama began his memoir at The Brando.
Yep, it's true! Following Obama's presidency, you may remember that he and Michelle took a long tropical vacation where he devoted some time to writing. Well, that was at The Brando!
8. Everyone gets a bike of their own.
This may have been my family's favorite feature at The Brando. When we first arrived at our bungalow and got the grand tour, we were delighted to find four bicycles, all in their proper sizes sitting under a shelter near our front door. When we weren't in the water, these would become our mode of transportation for zipping to the main resort center or just out for a jaunt. Such fun!
9. The Brando is a bird lover's paradise.
Among the 12 islands that make up Tetiaroa, one is called Bird Island, and for a good reason. Since the small island has no predators, it's a perfect sanctuary for thousands of birds. Every evening thousands of seabirds arrive to roost, among which are the noody and the great frigate. The Brando offers a boat tour where guests can get an up-close look at the many birds found there and learn about their migrating patterns and nesting habits.
10. The Brando is proof that perfection doesn’t exist.
While I've gone on and on about how amazing this place is, I think it's fair also to let you know what we didn't love about The Brando. For starters, the price. It is costly, and I'll just leave it at that. The beds are hard! I will admit, my husband is a mattress snob, but I completely agree with him on this one, they were terribly uncomfortable which we found quite surprising for a place of this standard. The food was too fussy, and there wasn't a lot of variety. Although there were a couple of restaurants to choose from, we settled into room service being our favorite and enjoyed most meals at our bungalow. Because The Brando is the only resort in Tetiaroa, there was no possibility of dining anywhere else.
So there is our list of ten things you should know about The Brando Resort in Tetiaroa. It was the trip of a lifetime, and we will treasure the memories we made there from beginning to end. Celebrating our 25th anniversary at The Brando with our boys was like a dream.
If you ever get a chance to stay there, let us know about your experience. Where is your family's favorite island get-a-way?
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