The Brando is what you’d call simply amazing in the middle of nowhere, although it’s not (in the middle of nowhere, at least). Thank goodness Marlon Brando, while filming the 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty, fell in love not only with his future wife Tarita but with French Polynesia – the land and its people – inspiring him to buy the lagoon-centered Tetiaroa Island in 1964.
While we are not especially fond of name-dropping, this private island retreat, which opened in July this year, has already started attracting celebrities, doubtless because it’s a paparazzi-free zone, where one can only fly Air Tetiaroa from Papeete, Tahiti, to get there (arranged by The Brando’s own concierge, of course).
About 15 years ago Brando decided to build a fully sustainable luxury resort but unfortunately he did not live to see the stunning results. In partnership with Richard Bailey (of Pacific Beachcomber in Tahiti), Brando’s son and granddaughter, who still live on the island and are part of the Brando Trust that owns the island, finally completed their father/grandfather’s dream. They built a small resort with 30 one-bedroom, 4 two-bedroom, and 1 huge three-bedroom villas, all with outdoor baths and their own swimming (or plunge) pools, media rooms, and built mainly with local materials or materials with “certified origin, renewable, or incorporate recycled component” labels.
And we love that they call their sustainability “stewardship.” They are caring for this land for the future.
This land so loved by Marlon Brando is being treated with the utmost respect. And, yes, it is air-conditioned luxury but they use a pioneering seawater air-conditioning system to reduce energy demands and they rely entirely on renewable energy sources including solar power and – first we’ve heard of it - coconut oil. They employ over 200 staff to take care of just 80 guests, and they plan to have all their vehicles solar powered, although they also provide bicycles.
The Brando has an ecostation where scientists from around the world can lead research into sustainable interdependence and share the results with The Tetiaroa Trust so they can implement these discoveries. Pacific Beachcomber has entrusted the operation of the ecostation to the Tetiaroa Society, a nonprofit scientific and cultural organization dedicated to its mission “to inspire sustainable interdependence through education, conservation, and creative science.”
There’s also the fascinating One Cubic Foot project, started in February 2014. Photographer David Liittschwager and a team of marine biologists from the Smithsonian Institute and U.C. Berkeley’s Gump Station attempted to record and photograph all the creatures that live in or move through a one cubic foot cube that was placed on the inner reef of Motu Onetahi where The Brando is located.