Saturday, June 22, 2024


South Pacific: Marlon Brando’s Tahiti Island Comes to Life

The late film icon’s beautiful tropical island in Polynesia is getting a new lease on life with the development of a new luxury resort.

(Image of Tetiaroa by Farhad Vladi)

Just north of Tahiti, about 35 miles across the deep blue South Pacific seas, lies a small atoll that, for the iconic film star Marlon Brando, was paradise on earth. He bought the sandy, crescent shaped islets in 1966 after filming Mutiny on the Bounty in the area, and enjoyed his visits in rare moments stolen from his busy career. In his later days of ill health, Brando took great solace in memories of Tetiaroa, and was often quoted as saying that he simply had to close his eyes to be transported back. “My mind is always soothed when I imagine myself sitting on my South Sea island at night,” he once confessed.

On one of the atoll’s 13 small islets, or “motus”, Brando built a small haven, with a few cottages and an airstrip, where he delighted in stays that extended for months at a time. He was far from the only prominent figure to be bewitched by Tetiaroa; the islands had long served as a special vacation spot for Tahitian royalty, in particular as a refuge for blue-blooded women of the ruling Pomare family to beautify themselves by avoiding the sun and eating voraciously. Now, women will again return to Tetiaroa to relax and rejuvenate – this time, however, at a luxurious spa.

A small, rustic hotel operated on the Motu Onetahi until the 1990’s, and was run by Brando’s Tahitian wife, Tarita Teriipia, who was featured as his on-screen paramour in Mutiny. Despite its gorgeous surroundings, however, it never truly flourished as a destination for paradise-seeking travellers – one common complaint was that the island was lacking in most amenities, and the simple thatched huts were a little too rustic to attract high-end guests.. The new resort planned for Onetahi, however, is something completely different – and, according to the developers, very much in keeping with Brando’s own dreams for his beloved atoll.

(Islands in Tetiaroa by Farhad Vladi)

Billing itself as the “most eco-friendly island on the planet”, a new resort is being constructed on the motu, with an eye towards combining sustainability and creature comforts. Called, of course, “The Brando”, it will be composed of 35 bungalows scattered around amid the sand and palms, with an updated runway and ecological research facilities.The developer is Pacific Beachcomber, known for their Polynesian resort projects and well versed in the challenges of remote island development.

The resort will be powered entirely by renewable energy, including solar and an innovative deep-water cooling system for air conditioning. A yet-to-be-named conservancy organization will also have a home base at the research facility on the island, to ensure that the natural environment will be treated with the utmost care. One of the developers, Laurent Darcy, said that their goal was to keep the motu the way Brando would have wanted. “Marlon Brando from the very beginning was in love with this country with this island that he bought in 1966,” he said, “and he wanted this environment to be preserved.”

View a video on the creation of “The Brando Resort”: Link

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