Review: The Brando, French Polynesia

Room Type
One-Bedroom Villa
February 2023

To wrap up an extravagant “pre-honeymoon” trip to French Polynesia, we decided to finish things off at one of the best and most exclusive resorts in the world.

Located deep in the South Pacific, The Brando ranks among the best of the best in the world-class luxury hotel scene of French Polynesia.

The Brando is nestled within Tetiaroa, an atoll of a dozen idyllic islands. Within them sits a collection of luxurious eco-villas scattered amidst a kaleidoscope of biodiversity and waters teeming with vibrant marine life.

Once the home of Marlon Brando, the island captivated him during the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty in 1960. He pledged to preserve the twelve raw and untamed islands, which were once the private residences of Tahitian royalty.

Over the years, the resort has hosted various famous visitors, including Barack Obama, who came here to write his memoir.

Leading up to our stay, I was undoubtedly consumed with excitement, and eagerly anticipated the chance to check this iconic, once-in-a-lifetime property from my bucket list.

In This Post

The Brando – Booking

Rates for a stay at The Brando fluctuate depending on the season. These rates are regularly published on The Brando’s website and typically updated once per year.

For April 2023 through March 2024, you can expect prices for the base-level One-Bedroom Villa during low season to start around €3,400 ($3,720 USD, $4,900 CAD) per night under the Villa + Breakfast package, and €4,300 ($4,700 USD, $6,200 CAD) per night under the All-Inclusive package.

The villas at The Brando come in one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom options, which are priced accordingly at approximately double or triple the rate.

On top of the cost of your accommodation package, you’ll also need to budget for round-trip flights from Papeete to Tetiaroa on Air Tetiaroa, the sole airline serving the resort, which are priced at €483 ($485 USD, $640 CAD) per person.

If you’re planning for an extended stay, there are often special deals available for longer bookings, such as 10–15% off or round-trip flights included for stays of a given minimum duration.

You’ll also want to make sure you book far in advance, as the resort is limited to just 35 villas and fills up quickly.

When booking, you have the option to choose between the Villa + Breakfast package or the all-inclusive rate. The latter can provide excellent value, as it includes with all meals and beverages, including alcohol.

Moreover, you’ll also enjoy one complimentary activity per day, which is one of the highlights of staying at The Brando. Otherwise, the activities cost around €300 ($328 USD, $430 CAD) each.

The all-inclusive plan also offers one spa treatment per room per day, valued at €210 ($230 USD, $290 CAD). With many ways to enhance your visit, the all-inclusive package is definitely worth considering, especially if you’re already splurging for the room rate. 

For an added bonus, consider booking through Virtuoso, which grants you an extra €100 resort credit per stay. Keep in mind that other Virtuoso amenities may not be applicable, since early check-in and late checkout are already included for all guests at The Brando when possible.

Furthermore, breakfast is already provided with all rates at The Brando, and upgrades aren’t typically offered for Virtuoso bookings.

For my stay, I was able to secure a two-night all-inclusive package at a favourable industry rate. Even so, staying at a resort of this calibre certainly left a dent in my wallet, and was among the most I’ve splurged on any hotel in the world so far. 

Lastly, prior to your arrival, the resort will send you a survey to gather information about your dining and beverage preferences.

You’ll also receive an invitation to pre-book your dinner reservations, activities, and spa treatments, which I highly recommend taking advantage of.

The Brando – Location

Tetiaroa, an atoll located 53 kilometres north of Tahiti, is a stunning collection of 13 idyllic islets. It emerged as a volcanic peak over three million years ago, and shares its origin with famous sister islands like Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora.

Today, Tetiaroa is known for its captivating islets, locally known as motus. The area is surrounded by a vibrant living reef, albeit only a fraction of its original size.

Within the Tetiaroa atoll, Motu Onetahi is the cherished home of The Brando resort and the only part that welcomes visitors. The other islands are dedicated to preserving the atoll’s untouched natural beauty and all of the flora and fauna that lives within.

The Brando – Arrival

To embark on your journey to Tetiaroa, you’ll first need to fly into Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia. From there, Air Tetiaroa will transport you directly to The Brando, with the resort’s helpful staff readily available to assist you in making the necessary arrangements.

It’s worth mentioning that Air Tetiaroa operates from its own private terminal at Papeete (PPT). Upon arrival, simply exit the arrivals area and take a leisurely stroll to your left for a few minutes until you find this exclusive terminal, awaiting your arrival with open arms.

We had stayed a night in Papeete before our departure to The Brando, and we had the option to book a city pickup service. For a shared pickup, the cost was €25 ($30 USD, $36 CAD) per person, while a private pickup cost €34 ($42 USD, $49 CAD) per person.

We decided to go with the shared option, but interestingly enough, we ended up being the only passengers for the ride anyway.

The Brando – Pickup service in Papeete

We arrived at the Air Tetiaroa private terminal at approximately 7:30am, well in time for our 8:30am departure. To begin, we first made our way through the private security screening area.

Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Exterior
Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Sign

Air Tetiaroa’s private terminal is compact yet charming. It’s solely comprised of a check-in desk, a security checkpoint, and an exclusive pre-departure lounge for guests of The Brando.

As we stepped inside, my eyes were immediately drawn to the left-hand wall. A captivating photo of Tetiaroa is displayed here, and it provided us with a tantalizing glimpse of the luxurious stay that awaited us at the other end of the flight.

Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Photo of Tetiaroa

The lounge, characterized by its vibrant blue and floral sofas, served as a comfortable seating space as we waited to board our flight.

Mounted on the right-hand wall are flat-screen TVs, and local elements were thoughtfully incorporated into the décor, perhaps most evident in the wooden chair accents and floral patterns adorning the glass surfaces.

Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Lounge seating
Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Lounge seating
Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Lounge seating

Adjacent to the seating area, a small refreshment station offers a selection of chilled beverages, and a Nespresso coffee maker stands ready to satisfy any caffeine needs. However, notably absent from the lounge were any snacks, which would have been a welcome addition.

Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Beverage selection
Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Nespresso coffee maker

The bathrooms in the lounge were also well-appointed, and featured a mosaic floral pattern as the backdrop for the vanities and modern vessel sinks.

Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Lounge restroom

For those seeking a breath of fresh air, the terminal has a terrace with outdoor views of the tarmac. It was a delightful little space where we could soak in the ambiance and the anticipation of the journey ahead.

Air Tetiaroa private terminal – Terrace

Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the terminal. Between a hit of Nespresso and catching up on some work, the hour passed by quickly.

Before long, it was time for departure, and we were escorted out to the tarmac and boarded a 14-seat DHC6-300 Twin Otter aircraft.

Air Tetiaroa – Twin Otter aircraft
Air Tetiaroa – Twin Otter aircraft interior
Air Tetiaroa – Views upon takeoff from Papeete

Once airborne, we embarked on a 20-minute northbound journey, headed directly towards Tetiaroa.

As I glanced through the window, I was captivated by the breathtaking backdrop that unfolded before me. The sheer beauty of the island, which would be our home for the next two nights, was absolutely mesmerizing from this vantage point.

Air Tetiaroa – Views on approach to The Brando

Finally, we landed at the resort’s private air strip, well and truly ready to continue this incredible journey.

The Brando – Check-in

Upon stepping off the plane, we were warmly welcomed by the arrival committee with a captivating song and dance performance.

The Brando – Welcome pavilion

Without skipping a beat, our dedicated staff member accompanied us on an exploration of the resort grounds, and whisked us away in a buggy. Along our journey, we made a pit stop at Bob’s Bar to enjoy some refreshing coconuts.

The Brando – Welcome coconut

Our staff member then took the initiative to ensure our dining, spa, and activity reservations were properly arranged. This proactive approach set the stage for the top-notch service we were in store for.

The Brando – Check-in desks

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa

The Brando has just 35 villas that are strategically positioned amidst its lush greenery, ensuring ample privacy for each residence.

Situated on pristine white-sand beaches, each villa is complete with its own private plunge pool, direct beach access, and tropical gardens adorned with coconut palms and other native foliage.

To get to our villa, we headed down a sandy boardwalk from the road that brought us to the front door.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa access
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa entrance
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa entrance

Upon entering, there are three distinct rooms. There’s the main living room, the bedroom to the right, and a spacious media room to the left that can even be transformed into a second bedroom if needed.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa main room

The villa interiors feature a delightful palette of creams alongside a juxtaposition of dark and light hues. The addition of contemporary furnishings creates an ultra-modern aesthetic.

Yet, the villa still seamlessly integrates with the local ambiance. Traditional building techniques and materials such as wooden walls and roofs adorned with pandanus leaves all pay homage to the region’s rich heritage and indigenous artistry.

Upon entering the main room is a space complete with a leather couch and a set of armchairs. Here, large bay windows offer a divine view of the private terrace and lush garden, pool, and beach that await just outside.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa main room
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa main room

Villas are situated on the islet to overlook either Turtle Beach, where you can witness mesmerizing sunsets, or the Mermaid Bay, where the sunrise casts its golden glow.

Waiting for us at the table was a small bottle of Champagne as a welcome gift, although it’s worth noting that we’d have unlimited drinks included in the all-inclusive package regardless.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa welcome gift

Apart from the main living room, there’s a separate media room decked out with a cozy sofa and an armchair positioned in front of a wall-mounted flat-screen TV.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa media room
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa media room
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa flat-screen TV

A desk is available if you’re feeling particularly ambitious to get some work tasks done while enjoying the blissful surroundings.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa desk

Crossing over to the other side of the living room, the bedroom is elevated a half-level up from the rest of the villa, and features a charming seating nook and an expansive king bed.

In the unlikely event that the outside scenery becomes mundane, a cleverly designed television projector emerges from a compact holder at the base of the windowsill, providing entertainment at your fingertips.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa bedroom
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa bed
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa bedroom seating area

The villa also features a walk-through closet, with ample storage for your belongings. On one side of the closet is a well-appointed vanity.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa walk-through closet
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa walk-through closet vanity
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa walk-through closet

The villa’s bathroom is accessed through the walk-through closet. Once inside, you’re afforded with a remarkable display of beauty and elegance, adorned by a distinct décor from the rest of the villa.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa bathroom

There are two separate vanities, each featuring its own sink, flanking a floor-to-ceiling window pane that creates a symmetrical and seamless connection to the natural surroundings.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa vanity
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa vanity

Furthermore, the bathroom displays a captivating modern aesthetic with its sleek glass and mirror designs. On one side, a spacious shower with a delightful bench awaits, and comes equipped with a refreshing rain shower.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa shower
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa toilet

Without a doubt, the crown jewel of the bathroom is the outdoor bathtub, nestled amidst a tropical garden. 

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa outdoor bathtub
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa outdoor bathtub

While I’ve come across many outdoor showers in luxurious resorts across the world, an outdoor bathtub was an entirely novel experience for me, and I eagerly anticipated the opportunity to indulge in an outdoor bath during our stay.

Turning our attention back to the main living room, we’ll discover the minibar, consisting of complimentary wine, spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks under our all-inclusive package.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa minibar
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa Nespresso coffee maker

Prior to our arrival, we had communicated our drink preferences, and the staff had thoughtfully prepared them for us in this very spot. Additionally, the fridge was stocked with an abundance of soft drinks and snacks, providing us with even more options for refreshments.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa fridge

With the complimentary welcome Champagne, the fully stocked minibar, and some drinks at the bars and with meals, suffice it to say that we were able to fully enjoy our time here at The Brando without ever feeling completely sober. 😉

As impressive as the villa’s interiors were, however, they couldn’t quite compare to the incredible outdoor area. Every villa is equipped with a spacious deck that comes with a covered dining area, perfect for enjoying meals in the fresh air.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa outdoor area
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa outdoor dining area

Yet another one of the standout features is the private plunge pool, complete with two recliners and an umbrella. Coupled with the beach and the ocean just steps beyond, it made for a picture-perfect South Pacific experience.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa plunge pool & recliners
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa plunge pool & recliners
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa plunge pool

Additionally, the outdoor area is complete with a shower and generously sized lounger nestled further down by the beach.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa outdoor shower
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa beach lounger
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa beach lounger

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this villa is its close proximity to the beach, granting effortless access to the pristine white sandy shores.

From this privileged vantage point, a sweeping 180-degree view of the atoll stretches out before you, leaving an indelible mark of awe and wonder.

The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa beach access
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa beach access
The Brando – One-Bedroom Villa beach access

Overall, The Brando offers an exceptional One-Bedroom Villa with ample space, direct access to pristine beaches, a plunge pool, and an excellent blend of contemporary and traditional design elements.

The bathroom impresses with dual vanities, a stylish shower, and an unrivalled outdoor bathtub set within a tropical garden.

Additionally, the thoughtful layout of the villa and natural foliage create a sense of seclusion, allowing you to fully immerse yourself and feel as though you have a private island to yourself.

The Brando – Resort Layout

The resort sits on the sprawling motu of Onetahi, which covers about 78 hectares. The islet has two parts: the lower section, where the resort is located, and the upper section, where you’ll find the airstrip and staff village.

The Brando – Resort grounds

A meandering pathway encircles the main islet, and guides you through the resort’s stunning grounds, public areas, and skillfully hidden villas.

The Brando – Resort grounds
The Brando – Resort grounds
The Brando – Resort grounds

To make it easy to get around, each guest is equipped with a bicycle to use during their stay; however, if you’re feeling lazy or just want a more relaxed ride, you can hop on one of the electric carts. Friendly staff members are ready to take you wherever you want to go.

The villas are dotted along the eastern and western beachfronts, while at the very bottom of the islet, you’ll find all the public areas and shared facilities of the resorts, conveniently placed together.

The Resort Centre is the heart of the resort, where you’ll find the front desk, restaurants, beach and pool area, activities, and the bar.

Right up front, there are two shops. Hinerava is a famous jewellery store from Tahiti, and there’s also a hotel boutique with all sorts of useful things you might need.

The Brando – Hinerava store
The Brando – Boutique

If you head a bit more inland, towards the northeast, you’ll discover the spa and fitness facilities. Additionally, the pathways lead to captivating vistas and offer convenient access to the airport runway and secluded beaches alike.

The Brando – Resort grounds
The Brando – Resort grounds

The resort features marae scattered around the grounds, which are traditional Polynesian stone temples. These marae serve as holy gathering sites, and provide guests with an opportunity to discover and learn more about the rich cultural heritage of the region.

The Brando – Marae

While not technically permitted, it’s possible to set foot on or ride a bicycle along the airport runway for a unique and novel experience – just make sure to watch out for any incoming aircraft!

The 12 other islets in the atoll of Tetiaroa that are used for natural conservation, which The Brando’s revenues help support.

Guests can also arrange to take tours of the other islets to interact with and learn more about sustainability efforts, and I’ll share more about the activities we embarked on below.

The Brando, French Polynesia – Breakfast

The Beachcomber Café serves as the sole breakfast spot at The Brando. However, you also have the flexibility to enjoy your meal through room service in the comfort of your own villa.

The Brando – Breakfast at Beachcomber Café

The Beachcomber Café is the resort’s all-day dining restaurant, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a laid-back beachside ambiance, complete with outdoor seating and a picturesque lagoon view. The menu is a harmonious blend of Polynesian, French, and international cuisines.

(Note that all of The Brando’s dining menus can be viewed at this link via The Brando website.)

The Brando – Beachcomber Café indoor seating
The Brando – Beachcomber Café outdoor seating
The Brando – Beachcomber Café outdoor seating

There’s a limited buffet spread available, as well as a standard breakfast menu. We had the pleasure of enjoying breakfast through in-room dining one morning, and on another day, we partook in the Beachcomber Café’s offerings.

The menu boasts an array of breakfast classics, including various egg preparations, omelettes, and eggs Benedict. Alongside these choices, you’ll find accompaniments such as bacon and fresh vegetables, as well as a tempting selection of pastries, specialty coffees, teas, and refreshing juices.

As for the buffet, there’s a treasure trove of exotic fruits, marinated raw fish, baked goods, and juices, as well as custom-made crepes and omelettes prepared to your liking.

Lastly, you can also enjoy homemade yogurt and freshly harvested honey, sourced from the bustling hives nestled within the atoll.

We made it a point to sample a bit of everything on both the menu and the buffet, and we were left quite impressed. 

Even then, I’d say that breakfast is the most low-key meal of the day at The Brando, and the lunch and dinner offerings take things to a whole other level. 

The Brando – Lunch

Lunch is available at the Beachcomber Café, Bob’s Bar, or through in-room dining, where you can order anything from the lunch menus of both of these venues.

We ate lunch at the Beachcomber Café on our first day, ordered a poolside lunch from Bob’s Bar on the second day, and ordered in-room dining on the third day.

I couldn’t resist ordering the steak multiple times for lunch, which was cooked to perfection. The perfectly cooked beef fillet had a juicy and tender texture, accompanied by a rich, flavourful sauce and sweet potato fries that elevated the dish to new heights.

The Brando – Beef fillet with sweet potato fries at Beachcomber Café

Another main dish I heartily enjoyed was the rock octopus with pan-fried pineapples.

The Brando – Local octopus with pan-fried pineapple at Beachcomber Café

When it came to appetizers, I also explored a variety of options. The lagoon fish ceviche was a refreshing choice, featuring fresh fish marinated in tangy citrus juices, complemented by a medley of colourful vegetables.

The Brando – Lagoon fish ceviche at Beachcomber Café

The classic Tahitian raw fish, on the other hand, offered a melt-in-your-mouth experience, with delicate Pacific-style fish combined with zesty seasonings.

The Brando – Classic Tahitian raw fish at Beachcomber Café

Finally, the swordfish carpaccio is delightful, with thin slices of succulent swordfish drizzled with a zingy citrus dressing and garnished with fragrant herbs.

The Brando – Swordfish carpaccio at Beachcomber Café

The lunch offerings from Bob’s Bar also didn’t disappoint. We had a poolside lunch of a burger and lobster roll after coming back from our tour of the atoll on the second day, and found the lobster roll to be so delicious that we ordered it via room service as well on the third day. 

The Brando – Burger at Bob’s Bar
The Brando – Lobster roll at Bob’s Bar
The Brando – Croque monsieur at Bob’s Bar

The Brando – Dinner

For dinner, you have a choice of three excellent venues: the Beachcomber Café, Les Mutinés for French fine dining, or Nami for a memorable Japanese teppanyaki tasting experience.

Note that Les Mutinés and Nami are only open on select evenings and have limited availability, so it’s recommended to make reservations as soon as possible after booking your stay.

The Brando – Nami
The Brando – Nami seating

Indeed, we were unfortunately unable to secure a reservation at the highly acclaimed Nami restaurant, which is a regret of mine that leaves me looking forward to returning at some point in the future.

Instead, we had the pleasure of dining at Les Mutinés on the first evening, indulging in a masterpiece of French fine dining out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 

The Brando – Les Mutinés

As the flagship French establishment on the island, Le Mutinés draws its name from the renowned film Mutiny on the Bounty, which Marlon Brando was filming when he stumbled upon these islands. 

Our experience at Les Mutinés was nothing short of extraordinary, featuring a full multi-course French menu, complemented by carefully selected wine pairings.

The Brando – Les Mutinés seating
The Brando – Les Mutinés seating

To commence our feast, we had Polynesian swordfish tart, bursting with flavours that evoked the essence of the region. The shrimp and fruit carpaccio also graced our palates, offering a refreshing and tantalizing start to the evening.

The Brando – Shrimp and fruit carpaccio at Les Mutinés

For the main course, I was once again compelled to order the roasted wagyu steak. The meat boasted a beautifully seared crust, which then gave way to a melt-in-your-mouth texture that was pure bliss with every bite.

The Brando – Wagyu steak at Les Mutinés

Meanwhile, Jessy opted for the lagoon fish accompanied by sweet pepper ravioli, a harmonious blend of textures and flavours that left her thoroughly satisfied.

The Brando – Lagoon fish with sweet pepper ravioli at Les Mutinés

As the evening progressed, Jessy and I found ourselves enchanted by the unlimited refills of wine. We savoured the decadence of the cheese course, and as the grand finale approached, we were treated to an assortment of desserts.

I have to say, the “Roasted Mango” carried one the most deliciously complex flavours I’ve ever tasted in a dessert, and dare I say in any course in a fine-dining experience in general. It’s a dish I still think about to this day. 

The Brando – Roasted mango dessert at Les Mutinés
The Brando – Honey island soufflé dessert at Les Mutinés
The Brando – Petit fours at Les Mutinés

After a magical experience at Les Mutinés the first night, we enjoyed a Polynesian dinner and show at Beachcomber Café on the second night. The dinner menu at Beachcomber remained mostly unchanged from lunch; as a result, we ended up delving into practically every item.

Among them, the coconut sorbet shone with its incredible creaminess and tropical undertones, and left us with a lasting impression.

Although we missed out on Nami, our dining experiences at Les Mutinés and Beachcomber Café, including the captivating Polynesian show, were unforgettable. Thanks to the an amazing ambience and the company of a loved one, both of our evenings at The Brando were truly magical.

Even more impressively, it’s worth noting that the world-class food at the resort comes directly from their organic gardens and food forests. Any food waste generated at The Brando is composted and used to enrich the soil for the gardens, creating a self-sustaining cycle for growing their own food, further reinforcing the resort’s commitment to sustainability and conservation.

The Brando – Bar

At The Brando, you’ll find two unique bars offering distinctive experiences.

First, there’s Bob’s Bar, a place with a fascinating history that predates The Brando. It was here that Marlon Brando himself would come to see his friend Bob’s expertise in creating cocktails tailored to his tastes.

Situated on the beach and paying homage to Marlon and Bob, this in-the-round bar serves up South Pacific-inspired food and drinks, drawing inspiration from Marlon’s iconic films.

The Brando – Bob’s Bar entrance
The Brando – Bob’s Bar

Located near the main pool and beach, Bob’s Bar is the go-to spot for ordering drinks while enjoying the daytime heat or a sunset. With its funky-chic beach vibe, it offers a laid-back atmosphere to savour light fare and refreshing beverages.

The Brando – Bob’s Bar outdoor seating
The Brando – Drinks at Bob’s Bar
The Brando – Bob’s Bar sunset view

For a different experience, Te Manu Bar offers an indoor recreation area with a pool table and outdoor seating amidst a canopy of treetops.

The Brando – Te Manu Bar
The Brando – Te Manu Bar indoor seating
The Brando – Te Manu Bar pool table

The elevated lounges suspended above the beach provide breathtaking views of the lagoon and the starry sky. Te Manu Bar has an intimate and cozy lounge atmosphere, and is a great perfect spot to hang out or engage in a friendly game of billiards.

The Brando – Te Manu Bar outdoor seating
The Brando – Te Manu Bar outdoor seating

Both bars boast excellent drink selections, but on our two nights, we mostly relished the spellbinding sunset views at Bob’s Bar before heading to dinner. Sunset drinks at Bob’s Bar were truly transformative, and added an extra touch of magic to our time at the resort.

On the second night, we stopped by Te Manu to grab a drink before heading back to our villa on the buggy to polish it off – though to be honest, we’d already had too much by that point. 😉

The Brando – Pools & Beach

The main infinity pool at The Brando is an epitome of luxury. The pool is spacious, and the water is just the right temperature to beat the daytime heat and cool off.

You’ll find plenty of loungers and umbrellas placed out around the pool area, yet spread out enough to still offer some privacy.

The Brando – Infinity pool
The Brando – Infinity pool
The Brando – Infinity pool lounge chairs

Right in front of the pool is a beautiful stretch of beach that extends along the villas. It’s great for taking leisurely walks or simply enjoying the sandy shore.

The Brando – Poolside beach

The resort has two main beaches, Mermaid Bay and Turtle Beach, both with stunning white sand and crystal-clear waters. At these beaches, the resort offers a variety of water activities such as snorkelling, paddleboarding, and kayaking.

The Brando – Beach

Note that the snorkelling in front of the villas might not be the best, but if you head over to the beach near the pool, that’s where the underwater action is. You can rent snorkels and explore the vibrant fish and colourful coral that can be found there.

Additionally, the lagoon at Tetiaroa is enormous, so you can swim or snorkel through most of it since there are plenty of areas that aren’t too shallow. It’s a fantastic opportunity to explore the captivating marine life and stunning coral formations.

The Brando – Spa

At The Brando, you’ll find the Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa, which takes up a sprawling 21,000 square feet of the resort.

The Brando – Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa

As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by boardwalks that lead to individual treatment rooms and a relaxation area. Within the spa, you’ll discover a hamman, which is a traditional Turkish steam bathtub known for its detoxifying and purifying properties, as well as a freshwater cascade and a herbal tea room, where you can sip on flavourful infusions.

With the all-inclusive plan, you’ll receive one complimentary spa treatment per room per day, which meant that we’d have two treatments that we could enjoy together during our two-night stay. On the morning of our departure, we decided to indulge in a couples’ massage.

While I’m not typically a spa person, I thought it was the perfect way to unwind and relax before bidding farewell to this tropical paradise.

The relaxation area offers comfortable loungers where we could unwind, and there were even snacks available. Additionally, we discovered a sauna and a “cold plunge” pool, which, despite its name, wasn’t too cold and was more of a refreshing dip.

The Brando – Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa relaxation room
The Brando – Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa refreshments
The Brando – Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa cold plunge

As a hidden gem, there’s another cold plunge pool known as “Jack’s Cold Plunge” located near the “back” of the resort. Accessible down a side road from the main path, this pool pumps water directly from the deep sea, which is super cold!

The Brando – Jack’s Cold Plunge

Near the spa, you’ll find the fitness centre, which boasts a modern design and comfortable air conditioning. Despite its limited size, it offers an excellent range of cardio and strength training equipment, allowing you to maintain your fitness routine while enjoying your stay at The Brando.

The Brando – Fitness centre
The Brando – Fitness centre
The Brando – Fitness centre

The Brando – Activities

There’s certainly no shortage of activities available at the resort, and if you go for an all-inclusive rate, one activity per day is included.

There are numerous guided excursions to explore Tetiaroa and its surrounding areas. These excursions include kayak trips to the outer limits of the atoll, visits to see turtles and rays up close, and other such tours.

To immerse guests in Polynesian life and culture, The Brando offers activities that allow them to connect with the local culture. These include Polynesian art workshops, traditional dance performances, and storytelling sessions.

Private expeditions are also available, including guided snorkelling trips, canoeing in the lagoon, and encounters with marine life like reef sharks and fish.

Additionally, the resort provides a variety of sports and activities to cater to different interests and preferences. Land-based activities include playing tennis or pickleball, and water-based activities include swimming in the pool or ocean, snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and scuba diving if you happen to have your certification.

The Brando – Tennis court
The Brando – Ping pong table
The Brando – Volleyball court

On the first day, we embarked on The Kayak Exploration, a remarkable adventure that allowed us to view the untouched beauty of Tetiaroa. Setting sail on a private tour, as no one else had signed up for it, we ventured into the vast expanse of the ocean.

The Brando – The Kayak Exploration tour

Drifting through the lagoon, we discovered a tapestry of smaller islets that showcased the sheer remoteness of the island. As we paddled amidst the serene waters, numerous local birds appeared on our journey.

The second day brought us The Ultimate Tour. From exploring diverse islets brimming with flora and fauna to encountering a colossal coconut crab, this tour left us awestruck at every turn.

One of the most awe-inspiring sights we took in was the renowned “Queen’s Bath,” a seemingly infinite expanse of turquoise-blue waters that are only waist-deep. One iconic symbol of The Brando is a fallen tree gracefully floating in the crystal-clear waters around here, and this spot has become a famous Instagram-worthy photo destination.

The Brando – The Queen’s Bath
The Brando – The Queen’s Bath

Throughout both tours, we were treated to a comfortable boat ride, as well refreshing beverages, including water, juice, and beer, ensuring our comfort amidst the natural marvels.

The Brando – Boat used for tours
The Brando – Beverages during tours

If you visit Tetiaroa during an appropriate season, you may witness the sight of turtles laying their eggs on the untouched shores. The Brando has preserved the surrounding beaches, allowing Green Sea Turtles to nest freely in the area.

From October to March, guests at The Brando often have the opportunity to join Tetiaroa Society guides and observe female turtles creating nests and laying eggs, as well as witness hatchlings making their way to the ocean along the beach.

Indeed, an integral part of The Brando’s essence lies in its commitment to sustainability. Every element of the hotel has been meticulously designed so as to have as small of an environmental footprint as possible, and much of its revenue goes toward funding research and educational initiatives to keep this island ecosystem healthy and thriving.

Additionally, The Brando actively engages in coral reef conservation, closely monitoring the biodiversity of Tetiaroa and its surrounding waters. The resort also prioritizes sustainable tourism and collaborates with local schools and communities to raise awareness about the crucial importance of environmental conservation and sustainable practices.

Learning about these endeavours added an extra layer of fascination to our stay, allowing us to fully appreciate the resort’s dedication to preserving Tetiaroa’s natural wonders.

The Brando – Service

Service at this resort was truly exceptional, far surpassing most of my experiences anywhere else in the world.

The staff members largely hailed from France and French Polynesia and clearly possessed extensive professional training. Despite their expertise, they maintained a warm and welcoming demeanour, ensuring the friendly island atmosphere was ever-present.

At Les Mutinés, the service was impeccably attentive and polished, while at Beachcomber Cafe, it was prompt and more laid-back, perfectly catering to the distinct dining styles of the two venues. 

The attention to detail was impeccable, such as our bicycles consistently being returned to our doorstep every morning, even if we had requested a buggy ride back in the evening as a result of having had too much to drink. 

Every single need was met with utmost care, and it was evident that the staff took immense pride in being part of such a remarkable and distinctive resort.


The Brando is unquestionably the best resort I’ve stayed at so far, and lives up to its well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s finest getaways. 

During our stay, we were immersed in the stunning natural beauty of Tetiaroa, and our every need was met with our One-Bedroom Villa. Our lodging came with abundant space, direct access to unspoiled beaches, a refreshing plunge pool, and an elevated blend of modern and traditional design elements.

When it comes to dining, our taste buds were tantalized by the resort’s world-class cuisine, knowing we could truly let go and indulge in every meal and drink on the menu thanks to our all-inclusive plan. 

The exceptional service provided at the resort is marked by a perfect blend of professionalism, warmth, and attentiveness, while the daily activities added another layer of enjoyment to our experience. 

Ultimately, though, the captivating story of Marlon Brando, the resort’s unwavering commitment to sustainability, and the one-of-a-kind setting on a private island in the middle of the ocean, and are the foundations of its unparalleled charm.

I loved exploring the island on our bicycles to seek out ancient maraes and secret beaches, hopping across the outer islets to find unique creatures I’ve never seen before, and curling up on the beach with a loved one to count the stars under the impossibly clear South Pacific night sky in a beautifully blissful (if a little boozed-up) state. 

The Brando perfectly captures the beauty of its unique natural surroundings and merges it seamlessly with an elevated eco-luxury experience. While a stay here may command a significant investment, it’s undoubtedly worth the splurge if you can swing it.

1 Comment
  1. steve

    Congrats….one of the best places ive seen reviewed.

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