The Brando Island Warm Winter Wanderings

TRAVEL + LEISURE – World’s Best Awards 2017: #1 Resort in the South Pacific and #2 Hotel in the World The Brando!

Travel + Leisure has announced the results of the prestigious World’s Best Awards 2017, ranking The Brando the “#1 Resort in the South Pacific” and “#2 Best Hotel in the World.”

An epic island retreat, not just for former Presidents….a refresher to remind you of its charms! I’ve never felt so detached, calm and disconnected form the world as I did at this luxurious resort.

From the air, Tetiaroa Island is nary a speck of tall swaying coconut and vivid green palm fronds surrounded by the palest of brilliantly clear turquoise seas visible from your private plane that transports you from Papeete to the private island. Your first glimpse is of startling gem blue seas contrasted by white sandy beaches punctuated with miles and miles of jade green palms – a beautiful necklace of sea surrounding the pristine white beaches. A quick 25 min. hop, just barely skimming above the transparent seas and through huge billowy clouds; before you know it, the short runway appears on the edge of the sandy atoll.

tetiaroa

Tetiaroa

Legends abound about the lure of Tahiti from painters Gauguin and Matisse, to the writers Jack London, Melville and R.L. Stevenson. The brilliant light, the mighty sea and the allure of beautiful Polynesian women enticed many to this balmy paradise. You might be aware and possibly intrigued by Marlon Brando’s dreamy paradise, his paparazzi hideaway. If you need such distance, this is the most enchanting escape. I truly felt I had left civilization behind – the real world was merely 25-air minutes away, yet it felt a million miles away.

Photos provide glammy perspective, however the absolute beauty of the warm indigo seas, the stillness, occasionally interrupted by native birdsong, the natural beauty of the island must be experienced. A rare combination of nature and a man’s love for an island he called home for many years. The Brando experience is unlike any other – imagine balmy breezes, warm gentle seas teeming with flamboyant tropical fish and curious turtles, black night skies filled with thousands of stars, the Southern Sky is also a star at The Brando.The BrandoTo begin, a guest feels like royalty, casual understated royalty; however, your desires and needs are met before you even think of asking. The staff is extremely efficient and beyond friendly – they are fun and they seem to be genuinely pleased to assist in any matter.

The Villas – in total, 35 stand alone unobtrusive villas, secreted on the beach with glorious water views, and nudged into a private thatch of shrubs, fragrant tropical flowers and swaying coconut palms. If you enjoy seclusion, even while knowing there are villas nearby, this should become your tropical paradise. Each day, I saw more guests at dinner, however I felt like it was my own private pristine island as I rarely encountered other guests during the day. Even at dinner the tables are isolated, you won’t  be privy to others conversation. And nary a phone or tablet other than a few photographs- unplug and detach; no rules, nature seems to be the ruler here.

The Brando Beach Comber CafeThe Villas – elegant and chic and decorated in understated refined earth tones. Villas include a library with media room, massive light filled baths and a sumptuous outdoor tub for soaking and stargazing. Traditional Polynesian thatched roofs and floor to ceiling windows frame the gorgeous indigo lagoon. Infinity pool on wide expansive decks, terrace-dining tables, a rocker to idle away an afternoon- sublime comforts. My splash pool was a refreshing respite each afternoon, a brilliant après dip after snorkeling in front of my Villa. Several two-bedroom villas and a three-bedroom villa can be reserved for families. 

The gorgeous island is expansive and the bicycles at each villa allow you to pedal on paved paths to the spa or to dining. I love the fact that each Villa has a few bicycles randomly assigned to its own bike villa and no matter how many times I abandoned my bike at the spa or at dinner – I, fearful of an Isadora Duncan demise, picturing my sundress wrapped in the spokes, left my bike strewn somewhere every evening. Each morning, no matter the time, my bikes had mysteriously returned to their sandy perch. This is only one example of the unobtrusive level of service at The Brando. If you prefer a golf buggy, ring reception and a buggy will materialize in a matter of moments.oPhoto credit Tim-mckenna.comDining – You won’t find a typical breakfast buffet here; a la carte service on your terrace or in the Beachcomber Café. Healthy smoothies, tropical fruit and honey from the island to smother the scrumptious croissants and freshly baked bread. Highly recommend the scrambled eggs – prepared to perfection. Next January, construction starts on a third restaurant, modifying The Beachcomber Cafe with the addition of a Teppanyaki table, as well as a pergola to cover the beach area in front of the restaurant.

Lunch is served at the Beachcomber or at Dirty Bob’s Bar- just caught fish and excellent fresh vegetables and organic salads. One tuna dish in particular, elicited begging every day for a repeat! The delicious bread – try to abstain, as it is bountiful and a very bad habit to start, as it seems to be baked all day long! See my fun post on Dirty Old Bobs Bar: http://www.gwenbooks.com/2015/06/dirty-old-bobs-bar-the-brando/Photo credit Tim-mckenna.comDinner options from the Café served at scattered tables along the sea or tucked discretely amid the greenery, private and discreet no matter how many guests. For fancier fare, doll up for fine dining at Les Mutinés Restaurant, which is overseen by Guy Martin, chef at the three-Michelin star Le Grand Véfour in Paris. Extensive French cuisine and and a sizable wine cellar. Scrumptious!

Spa – this is a spa worthy of a separate post…. So gorgeous, relaxing and stunning architecture…http://www.gwenbooks.com/2015/09/varua-spa-at-the-brando/ Please see Spa Post.

Photo credit Tim-mckenna.comThe Brando is a fully inclusive Sanctuary: meals and beverages, a spa treatment each day and an excursion. No cash or credit cards needed until check out. Even the boutiques and jewelry shop- wrap and deliver your packages to your room sans credit card. A wallet is an unnecessary swim suit accessory.

Activities: Tennis, snorkeling with marine biologists, classes teaching traditional Polynesian crafts, and in the dark clear evening skies, Southern sky stargazing is magical! Bicycling, swimming, stand up paddle, off island visits to explore other islands, cultural lectures; be active or be lazy – The Brando is pure paradise. If planned in advance, fly-fishing day trips with Teihotu Brando are a marvelous adventure. Walk through the warm surf and cast out in the salt flats – I loved my quiet day despite being unlucky in  fishing!  Sunset ceremonies, traditional Polynesian music and dance…despite being marooned, you might be immersed in activities if you please.The BrandoSpa, daily activities, the brilliant knowledgeable staff behind the scene, the technology created to make The Brando a natural sanctuary…..

Logistics: it is only an 8-hour flight from LAX to Tahiti – and a private 25 min flight in The Brando puddle jumper to Tetiaroa Island…or try the new helicopter service!

Paradise is closer than you think! Stunning natural beauty, authentic experiences, divine dining and spectacular spa…

Highly Recommend The Brando! Plan now for winter warmth!

 

The Brando Plane

The Brando Plane

Interior photos, exterior entrance photo and pool photos courtesy of the Brando: Photo credit Tim-mckenna.com

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Warm Winter Wanderings

When it’s chilly here, it will be HOT in Argentina…time to begin plotting your escapes! Located at the foot of the snow capped Andes – one is instantly impressed and awed by this spectacular wine growing area. There are five different regions within the Province of Mendoza. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Chenin Blanc, and Malbec grapes are grown. Most of the better Argentine wines come from the province of Mendoza, desert flatlands in the foothills of the Andes that are irrigated from melting snow. While the grape varieties are European, the weather and soil conditions give the Argentine wines a very special quality. Few of us realize that Argentina is the fifth largest wine producer in the world; and there are some spectacularly good Argentine wines. The primary reason Argentine wines are only just beginning to appear on international markets is that, with an average wine consumption of around 60 liters per head annually, there has been little surplus for export! And we thought the Italians and French consumed wine by the barrel full.

Mendoza is an area of magnificent estancias, marvelous wines, wonderful horseback riding, fishing and birding, rafting in the summer, golf – countless activities for families, all nearby. Or if you are inclined, follow the vineyard trail, taste from the barrel with the wine maker, and explore charming ancient wineries or appealing boutique modern facilities. Wine tasting here is by appointment only, and often includes a leisurely lunch and tasting of 4 – 8 different wines.

Cavas Wine Lodge Mendoza

Lodging options include modern hotels in Mendoza City – or boutique properties in the countryside. Cavas Wine Lodge is a short 20 minutes away, nestled at the base of the snow capped Andes – plopped down in the middle of 35 acres of a working vineyard. Cecilia Diaz Chuit and Martin Rigal have created a splendid, award winning hotel built in a Spanish colonial style and devoted to the joys of wine. In the rooms, the spa and the Arabian feel of the patios, paintings and pottery is a constant reminder to slow down and enjoy solitude, excellent meals and delicious wine. Each room a private cabana with a roof deck with an outdoor fireplace. A small private plunge pool outside your cabana for soaking at the end of a hot day with a view of the Andes, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect setting. The trip here is a bumpy one on a gravel road, but the journey is worth it. The entrance is impressive, with a view of snow on the mountains beyond and a lobby featuring a twisted grape vine chandelier and commissioned original modern art. A sunny rectangular sitting area is outfitted with designer furniture and enough books to occupy anyone for days. Since Cavas is a bit out of town, the staff offers entertainment every night: a wine tasting class, Tango lessons, cooking classes with the Cavas chef. Actually besides wine tasting excursions, no reason to leave Cavas.

A car and driver can be arranged for dinner excursions into Mendoza, again marvelous food at very reasonable prices. Francis Mallmann 1884 restaurant recently voted as 7th best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine serves high-end fusion Patagonian ingredients and French technique. Housed in an atmospheric Spanish-style building inside the Bodega Escorihuela, 1884 uses a wood- fired oven in the winery’s courtyard to prepare roasted meats and empanadas. Respecting the seasonality of his ingredients, Mallmann changes the menu every two weeks and prepares dishes with matching wine selections. During the week, you can easily combine a meal at 1884 with a tour of the bodega, which also has an art gallery.

Other Estancias are options, some an hour or two from Mendoza City, each exuding charm and within minutes of vineyards.

Mendoza is home to quite a few internationally known artists, meeting them in their studios is easily arranged. Of course private tours to wineries, dinners or lunches in vineyards or olive groves- You can also savor regional Argentine cuisine amidst olive groves and gardens, and even stargaze from vineyards, wineglass in hand.

Begin with a stop in Buenos Aires, mosey to Mendoza – still craving adventure? Then trek to Chile and the beach or to more wine country at the sensational Vina Vik in Chile.

Days are shorter, summer is gradually fading, begin thinking about your winter wanderings!

Vina Vik, Chile

Vina Vik, Chile