Originally appeared in March 2015 issue of Virtuoso Life
(All photos credited to Tim McKenna)
Marlon Brando fell in love with Tahiti while filming Mutiny on the Bounty
on location in the 1960s. He was so taken with Polynesian culture that he married a local dancer and went on to purchase a slice of South Pacific paradise – Tetiaroa Atoll, 30 miles north of Papeete. Once the private retreat of Tahitian royalty, Tetiaroa comprises 13 tiny islands encompassing a sky-blue lagoon and encircled by a coral reef teeming with marine life. There, Brando envisioned creating a small resort entirely from local, sustainable resources, including bamboo and coconut wood – an eco-island retreat for like-minded travelers. He dreamed of Tetiaroa becoming a living laboratory for conservation, renewable energy, and scientific research on the ecology of small islands and the oceans.
Though the dream didn’t become reality in his lifetime, Brando’s family estate, together with Pacific Beachcomber Resorts, never wavered in their pursuit of his goal. The recently opened Brando, a 35-villa private island resort, exemplifies sustainable tourism best practices, such as renewable-energy air conditioning, organic gardens, guided eco-activities, and preservation of local culture. “Our mission is to provide one of the most luxurious, authentic, and enriching travel experiences available anywhere in the world,” says Richard Bailey, Pacific Beachcomber president.
Brando’s friend Avra Douglas recalls that one of the actor’s favorite pastimes on Tetiaroa was lying in the warm sand at night, propping his head on a fallen coconut, and looking up at the stars while reciting a favorite passage from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
: “When he shall die / Take him and cut him out in little stars / And he will make the face of heaven so fine / That all the world will be in love with night.” The spirit of Marlon Brando, the man and the star, shines brightly on Tetiaroa.
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