Future Island

Hop a private plane, land in a one-hundred percent sustainable, ultra-private, tropical paradise, and behold: The Brando. By Martine Bury

Every iconic stay has an inspiring backstory—riveting history, well-considered design, or an incredible location. Situated in the breathtaking Tetiaroa Atoll among French Polynesia’s naturally blessed Society Islands, The Brando has many. From a storied past as the summer retreat of Tahitian royalty, to an intimate connection to Hollywood luminary Marlon Brando, to a new standard for innovation, sustainability, and luxury—this place pretty much has it all. 

Two parallel personal stories ultimately converged to create The Brando. After falling in love with the South Pacific islands while filming 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty, actor Brando purchased Tetiaroa in 1964, with the idea of preserving the pristine environment and Tahitian culture. Richard Bailey, Chairman and CEO of Pacific Beachcomber, S.C., first travelled to Tahiti on a family trip in 1963, and returned in the 1970s to dive into the world of tourism. Both men married Tahitian women, and raised families there—making their respective forays into hospitality. Out of the blue, in 1999,  Brando reached out to Bailey for help in turning his vision for a true eco-luxury resort into a reality. 

Marlon was one of the first champions of the environment,” says bailey. “He had very specific ideas that were even farther out there than my own—carbon neutrality, the use of the deep ocean water as an energy source. We worked out a way to do that and many other innovative technologies.

Ten years of thoughtful planning followed by a meticulous four-year build, the resulting slice of paradise is a remote, exclusive island outfitted with high-tech and lavish amenities in 35 sumptuous villas. Located on either the Turtle Beach or Mermaid Bay sides of the island, each villa has private beach access, an infinity pool, and drop-dead gorgeous views. From fine dining and champagne-stocked mini bars to excursions, spa treatments in twig-wrapped, cocoon-like pods, and all forms of ocean play, any experience one can imagine is included in the cost of the stay. A state-of-the-art research center connects guests to the conservation mission via on-staff scientists and naturalists. Whether you want a picnic on a deserted beach, a photo safari, birding excursion or snorkeling with rays and sharks, Bailey explains “this whole atoll is a playground.” 

Since opening, the property has attracted a string of A-Listers drawn to this ultra-exclusive escape, where privacy and service are an art form, and the carbon footprint is nil. Yet, much like the moment the resort’s famous namesake first laid eyes on this islet, it’s still all about location.

“The atoll is the star of the show,” says Bailey. “The Brando presents an opportunity to discover this unbelievable environment—birds and fish and coral. The villa is elegant, completely luxurious. But it’s designed to get out of the way so that you experience these islets.”