Stephanie is the kind of glamour girl we all wish we could be, an actress, entrepreneur and philanthropist (a real one). The Marchay member is also an avid, adventurous traveler who shared her love of votive candles and far flung places with fellow Marchay member (and girlfriend) Alina Cho.
AC: When we were talking about what kinds of stories we wanted to do, you threw out the idea of these three places in the world that you love. While they might be at different ends of the earth, they all constitute the perfect place to get away from it all. Even though these three places are vastly different, what is it that ties them altogether, do you think?
SM: They’re certainly remote. There’s no direct flight. If there’s a direct flight to a place, then it’s probably not what I’m after. There’s a proximity to nature although I would not describe myself as an outdoor person, not even a little bit actually.
AC: I like to say, “I’m an indoor girl.”
SM: I’m an indoor/outdoor person. I like to see the outside from the inside.
AC: Let’s talk about the three places. The first one is in the Indian Ocean.
SM: It is. I like wide open spaces, so this one, the Peponi Hotel in Lamu, is off the coast of Kenya, and it’s on the Indian Ocean, which is spectacularly beautiful, incredibly warm. You don’t find a lot of people from your building. I hate to go around the world and wind up with a bunch of people from my building in New York. You’re not going to find that at this hotel, which is great. It’s run by a family. They guy who used to run it, I swear to God, is Peter O’Toole. Looks like he’s been drinking and playing the piano for about forty years, but the place is a lot of fun.
AC: How did you even find this place?
SM: I really wanted to go to the beach, and I was doing a trip with a group, OneKid OneWorld, in Kenya and I had wanted to take a few days… It’s a pretty long way to travel, so if you’re going to go that far for any kind of philanthropic work, you definitely want to tag a few days on to the end to see something a little bit more leisurely. The locals had said, “You have to go to Lamu. You have to go to Lamu, it’s so beautiful.” I went by myself. I booked a two-hour flight from Nairobi and I got there and it was absolutely gobsmacking. It was so beautiful and really relaxed. I will confess to liking a lot of boho chic: really great cocktails, a beautiful hammock by my room, and everybody in these gorgeous sarongs woven by local artisans, the music, you hear the call to prayer, and you can go scuba diving, or you can read all day. It was the right place at the right time, and I really needed to reset my internal clock and that did it.
AC: The second place is in India, right?
SM: It’s in India, yes.
AC: How did you come upon that place?
SM: I got so lucky. I took this amazing two-week trip through India with my dear friend, Michael Crook, who is a photographer. She and I had traveled to India with World of Children Award, actually. We went to India and Nepal in the summer of 2013. We loved it so much that we decided to go back purely for a vacation in February of 2014. Mihir Garh is five rooms in the desert. There are musicians playing at night around a fireplace. It’s the sunset, it’s the sound of the peacocks. It’s halfway between glamping and your own personal butler. I like faux nature. I’m a glamper by heart. It has a spiritual quality to it that I really appreciate.
AC: When you say “boho chic” is something that you really appreciate.
SM: I want it to feel authentic to the place. That’s really important. I really want to feel like I am where I am, but I also want to have really good tonic. That’s what I want: tonic and a good gift shop.
AC: You being a good Texas girl, born and bred, this wouldn’t be an interview with Stephanie March without one of the three places being in Texas. Tell me about this place. It’s a ranch.
SM: It’s so wonderful. It’s called Rancho Loma. There are five rooms in the middle of a ranch. That seems to be my thing. My parents used to live about an hour from the place, so we would go there for the day and for dinner because they have amazing meals.
AC: Only five rooms?
SM: Only five rooms. They look out on this amazing prairie. There’s archery, horseback riding, there’s a pool. There’s this old stone farmhouse that’s been reclaimed. Every night there is a voluptuous meal, not overly fussy. It’s Texas and they know who they’re preparing food for. They serve a great prime rib, a great piece of chicken, beautiful vegetables and amazing wine. They pour a cocktail, but it’s kind of BYOB, because a liquor license it still tough to get in Texas. You can do plenty of sitting on a porch and reading and looking at something beautiful, but it has a kind-of spiritual quality, and it has an attachment to the countryside that I really like.
AC: How often do you like to try to get away on these kind of trips?
SM: My goal would be to do it quarterly, but I shoot for three times a year and I generally wind up going around twice. I don’t take two weeks very often. It ends up being closer to ten days, but two weeks is kind-of a sweet spot to truly, as I like to say it, reset the clock. At the end of two weeks, you start to miss your food, your cat, your bed. You want to change clothes. The city. I miss New York.
AC: It is home, after all.
SM: There’s a reason I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the whole world but New York. Being able to live in a city like New York, I prefer traveling to places that are a little bit slower.
AC: Do you have any vacation rituals?
SM: What a good question. Do you mean like a pre-panic ritual where you’re sure you’ve forgotten something, but as long as it’s not your passport, I guess it doesn’t matter?
AC: Perhaps. For me, for instance, what I like to do is as soon as I get to a hotel room, wherever I go, is unpack.
SM: Yes, I unpack. I have been known to move a piece of furniture or two, just to make it more pleasing. I am a sucker for flowers in a room, so even if I’m just stealing the rosebud off of a room service tray, I like to have a little something living in the room. I always travel with a candle. I like to light a candle.
AC: So do I.
SM: Do you really?
AC: I do.
SM: What if the lighting is terrible? Got to have a candle.
AC: Or if you’re on a romantic getaway.
SM: I’ll be honest. Makes your skin look better. A votive has fixed a lot of moments in my life. I’d like to know some of your packing rituals. Do you feel like writing up something about that? That would be really helpful for me.
AC: For each day, my goal always is a day and a night outfit, for each day that I’m there. My other small tip for you, Ms. Stephanie March, is I try to, as crazy as this sounds, stick to one color palette.
SM: I understand. Otherwise, you carry seven hundred things with you.
AC: Otherwise, it’s twelve pairs of shoes…
SM: That’s not glamorous.
AC: Fifteen bags.
SM: In the movie of my life, it’s a carry-on bag, but full of great stuff.