Marlon Brando was a cinematic titan, whose incredible performances led to him becoming a cultural icon, but he was also a passionate environmental activist who did his utmost to protect a collection of islands in the middle of the Pacific.
As the Bafta-nominated biopic Listen To Me Marlon builds in acclaim, MailOnline Travel took a trip to Brando’s French Polynesian hideaway – the island of Tetiaroa – where the iconic actor used to get away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
It was reportedly while scouting filming locations for Mutiny on the Bounty in 1962 that Brando began his life-long love affair with the island.
Tetiaroa had once been a retreat for Tahitian royalty but, after almost six years of deals, it was eventually leased by Brando who converted the island into a small village and, later, a hotel.
At the time, Brando commented:
My mind is always soothed when I imagine myself sitting on my South Sea island at night.
If I have my way, Tetiaroa will remain forever a place that reminds Tahitians of what they are and what they were centuries ago.
Hollywood friends such as Quincy Jones and Robert De Niro were invited to the island and holidayed in the Tetiaroa Village during the actor’s lifetime.
Tetiaroa cost Brando $200,000 in the 1960’s – around $1.5 million (£1 million) in today’s money – and he always intended to leave the surrounding islets untouched.
Brando used the island as an escape from his life as a mega-star and liked to use the pseudonym Jim Ferguson while holidaying there.
An environmental visionary, Brando made the effort to nurture both the biodiversity and culture of the island, implementing eco-themed touches across the atoll.
Brando never wanted to alter the island and lived in a beach hut amongst Tahitian royalty, and he put off developing until he could create a ‘responsible luxury’.
Although renewable energy was just an idea at the time, Brando made the effort to introduce sea water air conditioning, solar energy, a biofuel thermal power station and even eco-stations for research and education on the island.
Unfortunately, a hurricane destroyed much of the village resort in 1983. And, five years before his death in 2004, Brando and his friend Richard Bailey set about creating the world’s first post-carbon resort.
Since being redeveloped, the island has attracted a host of honeymooners and holidaymakers looking for a luxury escape. Even fellow Hollywood star Leonardo Di Caprio is said to have visited.
The island has 35 private villas which maintain the traditional French Polynesian style and guests can choose from one, two or three bedroom villas.
The spa uses ancient Polynesian traditions which are coupled with modern techniques. Luxury private massage and treatment villas can also be found around the island, while steam baths, a tea and relaxation lounge overlook the water.
A stay on the island will set you back £1,500 a night so staying may there may be an offer you have to refuse, if only for the sake of your bank balance.