Recently, we’ve all seen a credit card ad featuring a jean-clad, motorcycle riding, young Marlon Brando. When I spent two weeks in French Polynesia years ago, I wondered what Tetiaroa (a small collection of a dozen or so islands) was like. Brando had just purchased it.
I understood that there are about 133 islands that make up French Polynesia. Most people begin their journey into Paradise at Papeete, Tahiti and continue on by boat or island hopping, small planes.
Raiatea was one of my last stops. Friends of mine had just left and the owner of the hotel where I stayed had some old, wobbly bicycles he loaned to guests. I wobbled myself around the small island, and found that free dives and snorkeling near the reef surrounding the lagoon was of most interest to me. I helped to refull the fish tank in the hotel’s dining room that afternoon.
The manager mentioned that, for a small fee, the man who ran the mail boat would take me to Taha’a where he had a girlfriend. I was shown how to make French bread and bake it in the islands huge stone ovens for which the island was famous. It is now known as a center of fire walking. Beyond this island is the atoll of Tetiaroa and Marlon Brando’s “vision”. Construction of The Brando Luxury eco-resort is slated for late 2011.
There is concern that heavy construction could have a negative effect on the population and almost pristine environment. 47 deluxe bungalow villas (each with a private plunge pool), a spa, scuba diving, island activities and archaeological tours of royal Tahitian sites will be included. The airstrip is being refurbished and extended to meet all safety requirements. A platform on the coral reef will provide protected access to the island.
Tahiti Beachcomber SA is overseeing the project. Richard Bailey, CEO was a good friend of Brando’s and worked with him for many years on their joint venture.
The hotel features “sea water air conditioning systems” (SWAC) drawing on an inexhaustible supply of completely renewable clean energy with zero impact on the environment. His company works closely with the Tahitian Ministry of Environment. They stive to protect marine life and educate the public.