Realism in the South Pacific



The story of The Brando goes back to a simpler time. This private island escape encompasses more than any Gauguin painting could ever capture. It is the essence of French Polynesia. Curating the heritage of it’s first known inhabitants, embracing nature and the elements as those same people did and inviting guests who enjoy the very best travel experiences in the world, to come and share the private island experience, for a while. When we say guests who enjoy the very best, without exception, The Brando will surpass any expectation or past experience. There’s true magic in the air here. Our first real glimpse, which does not compare to what was about to unfold, was upon entering the private jet lounge in Papeete, Tahiti. Private jet or helicopter are the only ways to get to the island, by the way. We told you this was about to unfold in one of the most fabulous ways imaginable. An oasis within the major airport, the lounge is where we began to “get the picture”, if you will. The decor, amenities and furnishings immediately put us in a frame of mind for what can only be described as the most welcoming, luxury, private island experience in French Polynesia, if not the world. After all it was just recognized as the world’s best resort. Not our words, but we see how they achieved the accolade.
It’s not uncommon to have an airstrip on an island, but what is unique are
that landing rights are so controlled by the proprietors and management,
that nobody can land unless they want them to, and trust me – that sense
of privacy and security is unparalleled. So after feeling like jet-setting
royalty, landing in paradise, greeted by a ukulele-playing French
Polynesian singer, and a staff that immediately attended to every
detail of taking us from the airplane, directly to our villa, we had to pinch
ourselves. Was this a dream? Every picture we had seen of the pristine,
blue waters surrounding this luxury atoll was immediately put to shame by
the reality of what lay before us. The perfection of Mother Nature coupled
with a nurtured vision of Marlon Brando’s lay manifest under our feet and
before us. “Tetiaroa is beautiful beyond my capacity to describe. One could say
that Tetiaroa is the tincture of the South Seas.” – Marlon Beando. This
quote is so accurate and if Marlon could see his island today, imbued with the
essence of all that is Polynesia, as it avidly protects the environment, while being
almost completely self-sufficient, he would revel in the realization of his dream becoming a reality. Dotted with 35 luxurious villas that barely penetrate the natural landscape yet sear the soul with their fabulous offerings, and vistas of what we really came here to experience. Dipping our toes and drenching our bodies in the South Pacific’s hues of blues. Even fulfilling this wish was seamless.
As our bags were unpacked for us, we sipped champagne on our deck, beside the villa’s swimming pool. After glass number 2,we decided that it was time to don the swimwear we had bought especially for this trip. Now, with the infinity-edged swimming pool just outside our sliding glass door, the hard choice had to be made. Do we hop in, for instant aquatic gratification, or do we wander the 40 feet through our well-manicured backyard, which is the beach, and revel in those
colors we had only dreamed about up until a few hours ago. There really was no
choice. Midnight dips in the pool were way too easy to give up an
immediate immersion into the seawater. When you come, we hope you stay in
one of the villas on Mermaid Beach. You are spoiled for choice here, and not just with which beach your villa is situated on.
Swimming on this side of the island, in the shallow lagoon made it very tempting for us to remain planted on this side, plus the watersports facility is housed over here, so it didn’t take us long to grab a snorkel and explore the coral gardens that are throughout the entire lagoon. It wasn’t a boat ride away, it was right outside our back door, along with stand up paddle boards, kayaks and exceptional staff who even took us on a guided outrigger canoe lesson. They offered us SCUBA lessons in the in the same waters, if we weren’t feeling like heading out to open sea, just beyond the reef. There’s really nothing we wanted to do that the resort didn’t offer.

After a couple of these, not so lazy days, and retiring to our villa after lunch — just outside of Bob’s Bar, the realization hits. With our toes in the sand, coconut trees framing the shallow blue water, like a still-shot from a movie, we were living in a dream. The Brando has that influence over all of the senses. Most private islands can take you away from being experiencing the authenticity of the country it is connected to, but here, with the local Tahitian staff, elevated native cuisine, and villas designed with minimal impact to the environment in mind, you feel a sense of connectedness to the destination. Although the ever-present champagne and elegantly appointed villas may not have been exactly the way the original in habitants, even though they were Tahitian Royalty, may have lived– they simply don’t overshadow the almost indescribable beauty of the island itself, holding fast to the definition of realism.

“… the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements”.
In holding fast to a sense of realism, the spa is breathtaking with its menu and treatments designed exclusively for the resort itself. Using naturally sourced ingredients and creating treatment techniques found only in the Varua Te Ora Spa they’ve created one of the most unique spas we have ever visited. Arriving by bicycle from our villa, the stark contrast to the blues of the island we had been surrounded by, was an immediate switch from get-up-and-go to a look toward the lush green interior of the island. Everything was different here. Distinguishing the treatment rooms from the tall trees that emerged from the land to create a cocoon of lush vegetation was an intriguing challenge. Like giant bird’s nests, treatment room exteriors are made out of knotty branches, bent and intertwined into ovals of tranquility. Immediate relaxation and piqued interest to wander and explore the tea lounge, discover the waterfall and take in every step of the winding paths connecting each area of the spa while disconnecting us from even the island itself, were all we needed on the agenda for the day. They really have mastered the art of luxury travel at this resort.

The fine dining restaurant curated by the award-winning Guy Martin of the Michelin two-star restaurant Le Grand Véfour, in Paris, is featured in both dining venues and in-room dining. The word lack never crosses your mind while you’re here, and the spirit of the South Pacific is infused in every detail and satiating each guest is mastered from morning until night. The typical breakfast is more than enough before ordering a hot breakfast option. Two baguettes, a bagel, freshly squeezed juice, full fruit salad and a muffin and croissants basket are immediately placed before us as we sit for the morning meal. Very French! The muffins are just out of the oven and served warm. The freshly squeezed pineapple juice is an absolute a necessity. They’ve got the best pineapples in the world at their disposal; small, compact and full of sweet, juicy perfection. We started every day with a few glasses of this tropical elixir.
Awaking to a find that any footsteps we may have left in the sand, connecting our villa to the beach, had been freshly raked and are only a memory now, left us feeling ever so looked after, but that’s only one of a multitude of details taken care of by The Brando…manicured nature at its finest. Detail after detail was taken care of. Making it easy to unwind here. We didn’t even need to keep track of our scheduled activities. The staff knew our itinerary. Not just the head concierges, who rose from their seats every time we stepped within sight of their desks, but everyone knew our daily plans, from the wait staff to the onward. There was no question about being exceptionally well treated, catered to and taken care of. We wanted to let go of our reality back home and completely unwind while living in this dream-like paradise, the reality was that we could do just that.

We scheduled sessions with the personal trainer, took tours to neighboring atolls, and got to learn more about the way this luxury eco-friendly resort was run. All of the tour experiences are thoroughly educational and luxurious. Learning a little more about the functionality of the property, their conservation and sustainability efforts are impressive, and an integral part of the resort.
Since The Brando is the only private atoll, in the world, for rent to guests, you can have your private island fantasy become a reality at the price of a hotel villa. The island is real, the experience is unreal…It’s all about the stories. It started with a story that Marlon Brando wanted to create and the tale continues. Come make memories that will change the way you vacation, forever.
Insider tip:
Start planning your visit to The Brando immediately. This one will


Subscription Length


Subscription Length

Digital Version

Subscribe to Swanky Retreats Magazine’s DIGITAL version. Read the latest issue online or download it to your computer.