The Brando: Traveler Moments

Located in Tetiaroa, French Polynesia

National Geographic staff members Korena Di Roma and Andrew Howley went to The Brando to relax on their honeymoon. Read more about their adventures below.

Luxury at the Brando precedes even your first glimpse of the ancient royal atoll, which will likely be from an eight-passenger private plane operated by Air Tetiaroa. Guests await the flight in a cool-toned, mid-century modern lounge tucked well away from the bustling main terminal of Papeete's Faa'a Airport. The tranquil space features light refreshments and the chance to relax quietly or get to know fellow guests, should any be arriving with you. Once in flight, you're only about 20 minutes from seeing this view.

Located a therapeutic walking or cycling distance from the active heart of the resort, the Brando's Varua Polynesian Spa is so unlike the rest of the motu (or islet) that you'll instantly recalibrate when exposed to its Zen-like aesthetic, which incorporates floating lotus blossoms and an inland sea of aquatic grasses. Choose from a menu of natural oils and treatments, holistic experiences, and couples' therapies. For the latter, opt for side-by-side massages in intimate Fare Manu, or the birdhouse. After a gentle climb, you'll settle in for your treatment under a dome of artfully intertwined twigs suspended at the top of the palm forest.

The mingled scent of fresh tropical flowers and cleansing coconut oil will keep you from floating entirely away during a spiritual taurumi massage—a traditional Polynesian therapy.

While a private infinity plunge pool, outdoor dining table, and chaise lounges will entice you to spend long days at your villa, you'll also discover secluded nooks throughout the resort, whether in a cozy "bird's nest" at the treetop-grazing Te Manu Bar or right on the sun-warmed sand. The lounges seen here offer both a view of the lagoon and proximity to casual Bob's Bar, allowing you to admire the color-block water over a Dirty Old Bob, the Brando's signature drink.

Communion with the natural world is as much a part of a Brando stay as luxe facials and menus designed by a Michelin-star chef. Start by exploring your own patch of beach, which connects your villa to either Mermaid or Turtle Bay and offers the opportunity to spot strawberry crabs and multicolored parrotfish while a breakfast of crepes, soft-boiled eggs, and charcuterie is laid out on the terrace.

Stand-up paddleboarding in the lagoon shallows of Mermaid Bay can be timed for sunset to bring out the popular pastime's romantic side. If you've never tried it, the friendly beach staff are always available for a quick lesson—and to make sure you replenish with fresh fruit afterward.

At the Varua Polynesian Spa, sample an herbal blend and enjoy a peaceful breeze as you await your therapist in the outdoor tea lounge, taking in the gentle sounds and textures of the surrounding pond. After your treatment, you'll want to let the calming effect linger with a steam bath or a quiet, meditative moment beside the waterfall.

You'll have no greater appreciation for the Brando's chic waffle robes than when you've wrapped one around yourself following a soak in your villa's outdoor bathtub. For the ultimate romantic indulgence, request a flower bath and relax beneath soft bubbles and fragrant tiare petals as you gaze at the stars or sunset.

From the moment you step into your villa, you'll wish you could bottle its serenity and smuggle it home. Built using sustainable materials and cooled by an ecofriendly seawater air-conditioning system, the Brando's 35 villas blur the line between indoors and out, promoting calm and comfort through a simplicity of design. They're also filled with thoughtful little luxuries that make for an effortless stay, including custom flip-flops, bite-size confections, an iPad preset with weather forecasts and room service menus, and lush products like ocean-friendly Algotherm sunscreen.

The Brando's distinctive, French-made bicycles make getting around Motu Onetahi one of the simplest pleasures of the resort. You'll come to love these bikes, because even if you choose to stroll home after a late dinner, you'll find them parked and ready to go at your villa the next morning. Ride down a shady forest lane to your spa appointment, go from a swim in your plunge pool to lunch at the Beachcomber Café within minutes, and discover small coves as you explore the motu's network of car-free paths.

You've never felt anything like the sand in this corner of the lagoon, which yields like velvet beneath your toes as you step off the resort's boat for a soothing swim. Known around Tetiaroa as the Billionaire's Pool, it's a favorite stop on the naturalist-led lagoon tour, which highlights the atoll's delicate marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Look carefully as you travel between motus: You may catch sight of blacktip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, and—if you're lucky—one or both of the atoll's resident mantas.

While blackout shades ensure you'll sleep in total-dark comfort, morning brings a view so cleanly framed and perfect that you'll wonder if you're still dreaming as you stretch yourself awake. Stay in bed and watch the sunlight suffuse the landscape as waves break on the distant reef, or go straight from bed to bathing suit and take a gorgeous walk before breakfast arrives. Warning: It's not always an easy choice.

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