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Catherine Heald

Co-Founder & CEO

Catherine is an adventurer, an Asiaphile and a serial entrepreneur. She describes her greatest fear in life as mediocrity, and her second greatest as boredom -- and the combination being the stimulus for Remote Lands. A former software engineer and technology entrepreneur, she considers herself lucky to have found her true calling at the age of 42, and to have been able to turn her life's passion for Asian travel into her profession.

Wanderlust is in Catherine's blood, inherited from her great-grandparents from Pittsburgh who circumnavigated the world multiple times in the 19th century on Asian art and antique-buying trips. Catherine's Asia obsession began back in 1985 when she read James Clavell's 'Tai Pan' and was instantly smitten. She had already lived in France and had traveled widely throughout Europe, but she had never been to Asia, and was determined to go. In 1987 she flew to Hong Kong with two phone numbers in her pocket, got a job selling Apple computers, and ended up staying for seven years -- travelling constantly all over Asia and the world for both business and pleasure.

Some of her most memorable travel experiences include having a private lunch with the Queen of Bhutan in her palace; a magical New Years Eve in Mongolia sharing a ger with a nomad family at -35°F; hiking to far-flung hill tribe villages off the grid in eastern Myanmar; off-piste skiing in Gulmarg, Kashmir in 1989; trekking alone in the Everest region of Nepal; taking a private helicopter up to view the peak of the third highest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga in Sikkim; cruising in Siberia from the Arctic Circle to Vladivostok in a Russian icebreaker; chartering a private plane to visit remote corners of the Gobi Desert and eastern Mongolia; getting married in an Iban tribal longhouse in Borneo, a Hindu temple in Kerala and a Buddhist temple in Bhutan; and travelling solo across North Korea

Catherine founded her first company in Hong Kong in 1989 at age twenty six, a travel software publishing company which later morphed into Take-Two, a video game company with sales over $1 billion and parent company of Rockstar Games. Next she licensed the Pink Panther character to star as a globetrotter teaching kids about foreign cultures for Wanderlust Interactive, her second company. She took the company public in 1996 (NASDAQ: LUST) which was Silicon Alley's first IPO according to 'Crain's New York Business', which also credited her with being one of the founders of New York's now famous Silicon Alley. Her third company was a natural language technology developer named Soliloquy, which tried to change the world by allowing consumers to converse with websites as if talking casually to a shopkeeper. Despite having a prominent computer speech Ph.D. as a co-founder and 13 Ph.D.s from MIT, Yale, Columbia and Stanford on staff, their goal turned out to be far too ambitious - and indeed remains the holy grail of human-Internet interaction. After leaving Soliloquy, she took a few years off from startups to work in her husband's Upper East Side art gallery.

As a hardcore entrepreneur and workaholic, she couldn't remain out of the fray for long. In late 2005 she hooked up with her old Hong Kong colleague, Jay Tindall, whom she knew was as passionate and knowledgeable about Asian travel as she was. Together they founded Remote Lands, with Catherine in New York running sales and marketing and Jay in Bangkok running operations and private jet and yacht charters. Their goal is clear-cut - to be the preeminent ultra-luxury Asia travel provider and to own the niche market for celebrities, Fortune 500 CEOs and other UHNWI's travelling in Asia. They coined the phrase 'travel designer' to describe their unique way of creating highly personalized and detailed itineraries for clients, and are flattered to see that many other travel companies are now using the term.

Catherine (née Evans) graduated from Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, and then headed to New York to attend Columbia University (Barnard College). 1980 was the first year Columbia offered Computer Science as a major, and her instinct told her computers would become increasingly integral into business and life in general. She earned her BA in Computer Science in 1984 and then spent four years writing code for Wall Street's LF Rothschild, Unterberg and Tobin while attending NYU's Stern School of Business, but she left for Hong Kong before earning her MBA.

She lives with her husband, Donald Heald, a collector and purveyor of rare books and manuscripts, and their white Labrador, Burma, on Manhattan's Upper East Side and in Sherman, CT. Her proudest accomplishments include having been youngest female CEO of a publicly traded American company at age 33 (as Catherine Winchester); being featured onstage with Bill Gates in two of his major keynote speeches in 1991 and 1993; and finishing the 1985 NYC Marathon in 101st place with a time of 3:17. She still runs 40 miles a week, albeit rather slowly now, and credits running and the self-discipline she learned from daily training with being the foundation for all her achievements in life.

 

BLOG POSTS FROM
Catherine

Setouchi Aonagi – Contemporary Art Museum Transformed into Luxury Hotel

August 26, 2016

Setouchi aonagi is one of the most extraordinary hotels I have ever stayed in…and I have stayed in a lot of hotels. The property is incomparable, but if I had to make some sort of comparison, I would say it is like an Aman – probably Amanemu in Shima which is also coastal – meets […]

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New Japan Adventures – Discovering Southern Kyushu and Sacred Yakushima Island

August 15, 2016

In my perpetual quest to find ever more fantastic remote destinations, I went to Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island of her four main islands, in February 2016. Numerous Remote Lands clients are going back to Japan for the second or third or fourth trips, and they seek ever more off-the-beaten-path places where few other tourists venture. […]

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Kurashiki: The Bruges of Japan

May 26, 2015

I am always looking for interesting new places in Japan – off the beaten track with relatively few tourists but lots of culture and plenty to do. The town of Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture totally fit the bill.

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