World’s Best Hotels & Resorts, Chapter 1: The Brando, Featuring Richard Bailey

What’s the best hotel in the world? In the first installment of our miniseries showcasing the world’s finest hotels and resorts, we explore a private island that clearly contends for that title, the Brando. Owner Richard Bailey shares how he and the legendary actor Marlon Brando built one of the planet’s best—and most sustainable—resorts.

Few hotels combine exclusivity, luxury, and sustainability like the Brando does. In the first of our miniseries focusing on the best hotels and resorts in the world, we take a closer look at this remarkable private island property set on the Tetiꞌaroa atoll near Tahiti.

The vision for the resort began with Tetiꞌaroa’s owner—and French Polynesia’s most famous resident—Marlon Brando. After falling in love with French Polynesian culture, Brando bought his own piece of paradise in 1967. After years of enjoying the biodiverse beauty of the multi-islet atoll—which is protected by a coral reef that encircles the islets—he decided that Tetiꞌaroa had to be shared.

The true luxury in Bailey’s eyes comes from being in a location where you are secluded and can enjoy the island’s beauty, history, and culture. The resort of course has a world-class spa, a wide range of water sports, first-rate cuisine, and even its own private plane and airstrip, but for many guests of the property’s 35 villas—each of which has its own private pool and beach area—the immersive view of the island through archeological tours and jungle walks are what connects them to the Brando. The resort has hosted everyone from celebrities to former U.S. Presidents, all enjoying this unique resort both for its exclusivity and ecological mission, which is best summed up by Marlon Brando’s son, who said, “Save Tetiꞌaroa, save the world.” 

In 1999 Brando began working with Richard Bailey, an American hotelier living in Tahiti. Bailey, who is also the founder of the nonprofit Tetiꞌaroa Society, at first struggled to reconcile Brando’s “crazy ideas” about how to build a self-sustaining resort that did more good than harm. But he eventually embraced the then-pioneering concepts of Brando—whom he calls one of the “first earth champions”—and went to work building a resort unlike anything the world had ever seen.

Bailey joins Bruce to share Brando stories and how the actor’s vision comes to life at the Brando, which opened in 2014. Thanks to features like a seawater air-conditioning system, solar power, and coconut oil, the resort today is carbon neutral from an energy standpoint—and yet still delivers one of the most exclusive and luxurious vacation experiences on Earth.

Hosted by: Bruce Wallin

Produced and edited by: AJ Moseley & Darra Stone

Music by: Joey Salvia