First things first. There’s no point in having a ‘private pool’ unless it is just that, and so obviously private that you can swim in it 24/7 without such encumbrances as bathing suits. Well, THE BRANDO on Tetiarøo Private Island in French Polynesia gets 10/10 for this. Girlahead thought about that a couple of days ago. Emerge from villa 203 as the sun begins to wake up, cross the deck and down five multi-hued crystalline steps to one end of the nine-metre pool.
French Polynesia is Conde Nast Traveler‘s Readers’ Choice friendliest nation, 2022. It’s always been like that. Marlon Brando fell in love with the Tetiarøo atoll when filming in Tahiti, 50km away. He came here to escape the cut-cue-cut routine. He bought the atoll, and later opened an eco resort. Ahead of his time, it sounds as if he was neither a businessman nor a hotelier. He turned to a good friend, Dick Bailey, heading the Beachcomber Group. To cut a long story short, Beachcomber now leases two of the atoll’s islands, the 77ha Onetahi for the resort and the other ‘in reserve’.
What is it like staying here? Arrival is romantic, on a 19-seater Tetiarøo Viking DHCG-300 exclusively doing the 20-minute hop from Papeete International Airport. At the airstrip, a local pair sing in welcome and you are then buggied to your villa, one of 47, all identical apart from #103 (three bedroom): there’s also a two-floor four-bedroom Residence with a superb kitchen and indoor and outdoor dining for eight.
Number 203, approached past numbered bicycles and along a 25m walkway, is about eight metres deep, and its 25m width is divided into three. Compressed bamboo floors and rattan-look or cream walls rise to an open-rush high-point ceiling, from which hang four-blade fans. The left-hand space is media room and office. The central living room, with a local print on one wall, leads, through French windows, to the deck and that pool (see the view, above). The right-hand space, up three wood steps, is bedroom, with a big airy bathroom behind – the bath is outside. Brightest colour, other than shades of caramel and cigar leaf, comes from the apple-green ceramic toiletries holders – and Hinano Tahitian Beer and other drinks holders in the sensibly-large fridge.
It’s all-inclusive, thoughout. Take a Green Tour, which includes going through the village where the 250 staff, Poynesian and French, live most comfortably (there’s a barbeque tonight). Guest food, as you would expect, is a delight. Try a tuna poke bowl at lunch: dinner, in what looks like an upside white ship hull with floating white nets delightfully separating diners, was an over-achievement, superb tastes throughout. Breakfast in the room is one of the best-ever. Ask for yoghurt and you get a choice, both home-made. Papaya is exactly cut up, with mint topping, and the flower-decorated omelette is a work of art.
There are memories every moment. The three young French bartenders, seemingly employed for the quality of their tattoos, are wizards at flamboyant mixology. The out-of-sight baker produces rolls that would be a sensation back in Paris. Internet, by the way, could be called a world-beater, with no password needed. And the science element to all this is unique, and so right for today’s luxury of preserving the planet. Read on, tomorrow – but meanwhile, tour my villa.