THE BRANDO, the Onetahi private island in French Polynesia’s Tetiarøo atoll, is so much more than ‘one of the world’s best resorts’ (note Girlahead never says anything is THE best). It is also an immersion in yesterday, today and tomorrow in terms of the entire ESG movement.
Every guest to the all-inclusive, all-pool 47-key resort are invited on a Green Tour. It sounds mundane but it is fascinating. See SWAC, the squash court-sized facility which houses incredibly impressive heavy-tech equipment to turn Sea Water into clean and potable water plus energy to power Air Conditioning (this is supplemented by over-5,000 solar panels flanking the island’s runway and set variously around the staff Village). The tour next shows recycling, where empty bottles go through three progressively-intense pulverisations to excrete sand-like granules for road fill. Here also are compressors compacting food waste, in 24 hours, to usable soil.
And this is the soil for the resort’s Garden of Eden facility, making The Brando self-sufficient in everything from fruit and veg to stunning gentian-coloured pansies used sparingly to decorate, say, an otherwise-colourless egg white omelette. Here too are banana trees and so much else – see, above, a gold hat among the lush greenery.
Do not miss, either, a three-hour Ultimate Tour. You are given reef shoes to wade out to the boat in which some of the eight at-resort scientists of the not-for-profit Tetiarøo Society will lead you through shallows to other islands, all uninhabited. What makes not-indigenous coconut palms, which may have floated here as shells from Asia, grow on some islands and not others?
Off Reiono Island, wade ashore, admire red Boobys nesting in trees, their white heads popping up out of the foliage. Other species, keen to get closer to the human visitors, swoop just overhead as if kamikaze dive bombers. Head into the undergrowth. Lead scientist Frank Murphy, who travelled from University of California at Berkeley over 20 years ago and, as if on a one-way ticket, is still here, lets a local colleague explain how massive Pua Tea trees have candifloss-like interiors, which mould into softest ground cover, providing walkways for what is thought to be at least 10,000 crabs. Nocturnal coconut crabs burrow deep into Pua Tea nooks and crannies, their homes for up to the century that is their lifespan. Daytime, you are more likely to see hermit crabs, which only grow by finding another, bigger and unoccupied, shell into which to fall, with a plop.
Oh, you learn so much. Frank Murphy explains, to Six Senses’ Neil Jacobs and four others (see a video, below) how rat eradication means a better wildlife future – DNA , from phials of seawater, show that the pests, brought by sailors of yore, are now no more (the DNA is so sensitive that one phial had traces of North American black bears, a result of a visiting research scientist having been hiking in Oregon the previous week). As a German couple sharing the Air Tetiarøo Viking DHC6-300 prop back from Tetiarøo to the real world of Papeete said, ‘we had four days here at The Brando and it was not nearly enough’.