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The Brando 5.0

Tetiaroa, Tahiti, Society Islands

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Review Summary

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  • Spacious, luxurious villas with spa baths, private plunge pools, and direct beach access
  • Two restaurants, including one serving a menu created by a Michelin two-star chef
  • A huge beachfront infinty pool with plenty of room to lounge
  • 24/7 room service dining at your private villa, poolside, or on the beach
  • One spa treatment per day, included in the rate
  • Kids under age 12 stay free
  • All-inclusive access to water sports, tennis, and lectures
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Impressive eco initiatives and technologies


  • Guests staying less than a week pay extra for the flight from Tahiti to the island
  • Isolated location may not appeal to everyone

Bottom Line

The Brando is one of the world's most exclusive private island retreats. Named in honor of actor Marlon Brando, who purchased the island after falling in love with the destination during the filming of "Mutiny on the Bounty," the resort harbors 35 private villas with plunge pools and direct access to empty stretches of pristine white-sand beach. The no-expenses-spared all-inclusive services include cuisine from a Michelin two-star chef, one treatment per day at a holistic spa, and unlimited activities, from exploring the lagoon in a Polynesian outrigger canoe to attending lectures about local marine life. Arriving at the resort via a private plane adds to the resort's exclusivity, and its high price. Those craving a private island stay at a lower price point might enjoy Vahine Island, while those seeking an overwater bungalow might consider Le Meridien Tahiti

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A luxurious private island retreat with generous all-inclusive services and a chic, sustainable design

Once a favored retreat for Tahitian royalty, Tetiaroa Island, along with its collection of motes, was discovered by actor Marlon Brando while filming "Mutiny on the Bounty." During the making of the film, Brando fell in love with the Polynesian lifestyle and purchased the island in 1967. He built a lodge and marine station with hopes of someday creating a sustainable luxury resort that also harbored a scientific research center.

Opened in 2014, The Brando delivers on the actor's vision on all levels. The low-profile resort blends into its surroundings and operates with the highest level of sustainable practices. Villas are cooled by seawater, vegetables are grown on site, and there is a state-of-the-art research center where guests can engage in lectures or participate in excursions with scientists to view birdlife and marine life on the surrounding small islands. 

While learning about the biodiversity of the area is interesting, most guests come to the Brando to relax and unplug. The all-inclusive, intimate nature of the resort allows guests to vacation at their desired pace. Meals can be taken at the restaurant or in the private villas. Days can be active or leisurely. Each villa has a small plunge pool and a path that leads to a private stretch of immaculately raked white-sand beach, but there's also a community pool for those who prefer to be more social. 

The calm waters of the sheltered lagoon allow guests to explore the crystalline water via paddleboards or outrigger canoes. Diving trips, tennis, Polynesian dance lessons, cooking classes, and yoga are also available to motivate guests to rise from their lounge chairs.


On Tetiaroa Island, a 20-minute flight via private plane from Papeete's International Airport

Located 30 miles north of the island of Tahiti, Tetiaroa is made up of 12 motus (small islands) that encircle a turquoise-colored lagoon. Getting to the Brando, which is located on the 193-acre Onetahi motu, requires a 20-minute flight via helicopter or aboard an eight-seat twin-engine turboprop plane operated by Air Tetiaroa.

Before embarking on the flight, guests check in to a departure lounge at a private terminal at Faa'a International Airport. Once on the island, guests are given bicycles to pedal around the flat paths, or they can request to be chauffeured from place to place in an electric buggy.


Stylish, modern, eco-friendly villas with king-size beds, spa bathrooms, plunge pools, and private access to the beach

The Brando's 35 low-profile beachfront villas were intended to blend in with their surroundings. The modern Polynesian-style design features vaulted ceilings with thatched rooftops, muted color palettes, wood floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow indoor spaces to meld seamlessly with the outdoors.

The majority (30) of the villas have one bedroom (1,033 square feet), and there are four Two-Bedroom Villas and one Three-Bedroom Villa available to house larger parties and families. The villas are equipped with separate living spaces furnished with ivory-tone sofas, a table and two chairs, and media areas with flat-screen TVs and sound systems. The bedrooms feature king-size beds that face wide windows with views of the lagoon through a screen of tropical vegetation. Walk-through dressing areas with make-up vanities and closets connect the bedrooms to the spa-like bathrooms which come equipped with sleek twin floating vanities, white stone floors, and walk-in showers finished in wide slabs of white marble. Outdoors from the bathrooms are tubs set behind wooden privacy screens.

The outdoor space of each villa features a deck that leads to a private plunge pool, and a separate outdoor dining room set on a platform beneath a tiki-style roof. In lieu of parking spaces, each villa comes equipped with a pair of cruiser style bicycles to be used to pedal the pathways of the resort.


A huge infinity pool, two restaurants, an upscale pearl shop, and a Polynesian-influenced spa

Despite its small size and remote location, the Brando is able to offer a long list of activities and services to entertain guests. One of the most popular pastimes involves languishing poolside and gazing out at the brilliant blue lagoon, but there are also numerous water sports and excursions to enjoy. Guests can take a self-propelled ride via paddleboard or kayak into the lagoon and out to explore the uninhabited small islands in the atoll. On land, there are cooking classes, Polynesian dancing, yoga, tennis, and a well-equipped fitness center.

Meals at the Brando are at the whim of the guest and can be enjoyed anytime through room service, or on the beach. The casual Beachcomber Café with tables overlooking the lagoon and beach serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The more formal Les Mutinés, overseen by Guy Martin, chef at the two-Michelin star Le Grand Véfour in Paris, is a more formal affair. The chic white decor and the barrel ceiling of the space sets the stage for dishes that include salt-baked scallops and mahi-mahi with ginger paired with wines from the extensive cellar. The hotel also features a vegan menu created by chef Kelvin Au-Ieong, of Invitation V, Vegan Bistro in Montreal, Quebec. The menu incorporates fresh vegetables from the resort’s organic garden. Tropical fruits and honey are also produced on the island and fish is locally sourced. After dinner, guests can enjoy music and movies at Bob's Bar on the beach.

Tucked away in a cluster of coconut palms is the Varua Spa, a collection of architecturally unique huts surrounding a tranquil lagoon. Traditional taurumi massage treatments incorporate local monoï oil while facials use Algotherm products. In addition to the cocoon-like spa suites, guests can opt for couples treatments in fare manu, a tree-house style suite perched in the tree canopy. The spa also has quiet spaces for relaxation, a steam bath, and a tea lounge.

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98708, French Polynesia

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