ON STARTING A FAMILY: I had a hard time imagining myself with kids when we were young. We worked 18-hour days and slept at the office all the time. We were addicted to our work, and bulldozing through it. I couldn’t imagine having another focus that would take me away from the beautiful life that we had created. Then I got pregnant with my oldest daughter. I was terrified. You’re never really ready. All of a sudden you wake up with this little baby and you’re transported to a whole new level of deep, profound, intense love. Kids took some of the edge off the intensity of work, in a good way. Things became much more fluid. We brought them with us everywhere we went, and homeschooled them when we traveled.
ON FOUNDING A HOTEL… AND A SCHOOL: We started building our house in Bali in 1995, and it was finished in 1997. Then, in the early 2000s, a piece of land just south of ours came onto the market. We didn’t need more space, but we knew that if we didn’t buy it someone else was going to build a hotel there. So we bought it and sat on it for a few years. We knew this really industrious guy from Java, and we asked him to find us some furniture and old wooden houses—traditional ones built in primitive ways, from logs, without panels. We put them up on that land and had the Neiman Marcus buyers come out and stay there. Eventually, we decided to turn it into something that paid for itself, and now it’s a little hotel called Bambu Indah that’s essentially an extension of our home. It has become John’s passion project. The floors creak, there’s holes in the wood, and our pool is more like a pond—there’s algae in it, and there’s a beautiful rope swing. The food is exquisite, and rooms are full of antiques we find on trips. It’s for the off-the-beaten-path traveler, and it’s gorgeous.
In 2006 and 2007 we built Green School, and in 2008 it opened with 90 kids. We created it because we wanted to send our children to an international school, but there wasn’t one near our home in Bali that we liked. Green School focuses on community-integrated learning and sustainability, and today there are 415 students, from 30 countries.