The Brando, a fabled, mysterious and ultra-luxury private island paradise sits quietly in the South Pacific, beckoning to any traveler who is interested in seclusion, service and some of the most incredible oceanic experiences the planet has to offer. Rooted deeply in conservation and taking every step with the environment in mind, The Brando is somewhat of a mystery to anyone who has never experienced it first-hand. Of course you can visit the website, read the literature or see the reviews plastered across glossy travel magazines; but to experience it is another thing. It is an opportunity to integrate yourself, for the length of you stay, into a world away where personalized service is paramount and the treasures of the environment are lifted to the forefront of vision. I was a recent guest on the island and I have to say, without fail, that the experience was impactful and memorable – in many ways.
Arriving to The Brando is not particularly easy. But, what treasure is easy to find? Whether you’re traveling from East or West, it’s necessary to make a pit stop in Tahiti, before catching your private flight on Air Tetiaroa to The Brando. Getting to Tahiti can be done mainly from California and Seattle, Washington on airlines like Air Tahiti Nui, Air France, French Bee, United Airlines and more. Once on the ground, the staff from The Brando will meet you and you will be escorted to the private terminal area and elegant waiting lounge where Air Tetiaroa operates flights to The Brando. There is no other way to reach the island, not by boat or any other means. It is incredibly protected and naturally protected by a large coral reef making it a favorite hangout of celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears and others. Waiting in the lounge for your charter to The Brando is quiet, seamless and simple as you sip a beverage and peer out over the tall palms hanging over the runway.
At the time of boarding, the pilot will come and introduce himself to you. He will explain the flight route and weather and flight duration, which is roughly 45 minutes. I boarded the plane, which feels more like a small private jet, and soon we were off. Upon approach to The Brando by air you can’t help but drop your mouth in awe of the majestic turquoise and deep blue waters that seem to melt together like a watercolor painting. The small waves breaking over the untouched coral reefs and the island flora and fauna coming into view the closer you get. When you first see it it’s like a fairy tale because all you can think is, “How does this place even exist”, which is the same thoughts that sparked its purchase by American actor Marlon Brando decades ago. He too, after filming a movie nearby, couldn’t help but be moved to call the paradise home as he had never seen anywhere as beautiful.
I landed safely on the island and was met my the hotel manager and staff who quickly unloaded baggage. I was greeted by a traditional Polynesian dancer and musician singing and playing a welcome song. As I was handed a welcome drink and a flower lai rested upon my shoulders, I knew this was going to be a special two days in paradise. Before you arrive to The Brando all of your information is taken and formalities completed so that you really do not have to do any of that upon arrival. This is so refreshing because, after traveling all that way, people just want to start their vacation and relax. Immediately I was invited onto a golf cart and taken to my private beachfront villa. The Brando offers 35 one, two and three-bedroom villas as well as a “residence” that is like a compound on the property. Here you don’t have to worry about vying for beach space, privacy or alone time as this island, while you are there, is literally yours.
The Brando is a sanctuary of sun, pristine beaches, coral reefs, luxury villas, fabulous dining venues and copious amounts of tropical cocktails. Typically, all meals and beverages are included and you can opt to choose a package that works for your trip needs and budget. As I pulled-up to my villa, I was delighted by the gorgeous architecture and the way it sat effortlessly on the sand amongst an array of tropical foliage. The one-bedroom villa is outfitted with a spacious living room, bar area, office area, huge bedroom, wardrobe/dressing area and bathroom. It comes complete with an outdoor shower and tub, as well as a terrace that melts right into the beach with a private small infinity pool and covered gazebo area for watching sunsets and relaxing. The room is technologically advanced with smart televisions, a phone system, music system and iPads for ordering food any time of day. It’s basically the epitome of a well-equipped home that, in all reality, you never want to leave.
But, leaving now and then is a must. If you can pry yourself off your own private stretch of beach you will find that The Brando has a lot on offer. Around the gorgeous pathways shaded by lazy palms you will find bikes to ride around, tennis courts, pool area and the ability to throw on a snorkel and goggles and explore the atoll at your own pace. Swimming at the beautiful Mermaid Bay is a must. If you are interested, you can take part in the “Ultimate Tour” which will immerse you in all the history, culture, marine and bird life around the atoll. It’s a phenomenal way to really see everything and understand The Brando from a three-dimensional perspective. I loved simple walks around the paths as well as the tour I took part on to snorkel around the coral reefs. Everything you see here is untouched and natural – no fish feeding, no baiting…just nature at its finest. On-site you can even hear talks given by marine biologists and scientists who work on the atoll in various conservation projects.
After days in the sun and water, you can really work-up and appetite. At The Brando, you can belly-up to Bob’s Bar – which is delightful. Bob was a personal friend of Marlon Brando and the bar is named in his honor. Here, bartenders will whip up the most delectable cocktails using fresh tropical ingredients that are from the atoll or other Polynesian islands. You can choose from lunch or dinner at Beachcomber Cafe which serves Polynesian and French-inspired cuisine, Les Mutinés which offers fine French and international food, and Nami Teppanyaki which focuses on an intimate Japanese experience with specialties from the land and sea. The food at all the restaurants is delicious. Guests can also simply order whatever they wish and dine in the comfort of their own villa, so the possibilities are plentiful.
Aside from relaxing beachside at The Brando I recommend spending a few hours at the Varua Te Ora Polynesian spa. This spa is so beautiful and is tucked amongst a small wetland on the atoll. The unique pod-like treatment rooms are architecturally arresting and the treatments offered are thoughtful and indulgent. I was able to to enjoy a massage which, after hours and hours of travel, was much needed. The massage was done with Polynesian ingredients and in the most professional and effective way possible. I left that 60 minutes completely refreshed and with more mobility in my muscles, making swimming and exploring the coral reefs that much easier.
My two days at The Brando were pure bliss. I have been fortunate to travel to some of the most exciting destinations and to some of the most special hotels in the world, all which have something interesting to offer. But The Brando is unique in not only their ethos but in their location, privacy and their dedicated efforts to take care of the land and place from which it operates. There is an innate respect there that is rare to find in the hospitality world, when the objective is usually just money driven. Here it is different and you feel that from the moment you set foot on the atoll. For anyone seeking the ultimate private island experience, you won’t be able to top The Brando.