with their world
Hi, I'm Heather, owner of Catalyst Travel Design. Most people know me from my former career as a chemist in the pharmaceutical industry. I spent 20 years in the science field and enjoyed many aspects of my job. But after substantial changes in the world, and after I returned from a transformative journey of living aboard a sailboat for 4 months, I knew it was time for the next chapter in my life. After thoughtfully considering what my ultimate calling was, I knew there was nothing more exciting and fitting than to become a travel advisor! By bringing my research skills, attention to detail, and love of learning, I am able to provide a valuable travel planning service based on my unique abilities. A trusted advisor is someone who values building relationships with clients so we know your likes and dislikes and can customize an ideal experience for you. With support from my well-respected host agency, Largay Travel, I'm excited to become your luxury travel advisor!
From the time I was a kid, I was fascinated by destinations and cultures far away from my small hometown in Florida. I planned to sign up for biochemistry the summer before my final year in college. However, as I was strolling through campus one day, I came across a booth with study abroad program brochures. I was intrigued. All programs were full, except for one. I had a life-changing choice to make that day. Biochemistry ... or Spain? I chose Spain! I spent that summer living in a dorm at the University of Madrid, studying Spanish art and history while traveling throughout the country. We would study artists such as Salvador Dali, Gaudi, and Picasso, then take day trips to the museums that displayed their original art. We studied Spanish history, then visited historic places such as the Alhambra, Santiago de Compostela, and Toledo.
Every experience during that study abroad stay drew me in, and I knew I had started down a path of lifetime travel. I went on to graduate with a B.S. in chemistry and spent the next several years in science. During those years, my love of travel deepened with a 3-month solo trip to Europe, a 3-month live-aboard sailing trip from Florida to the Bahamas, and countless domestic journeys. In 2019 I decided it was time to hang up my lab coat and leave the science world behind. By becoming a travel advisor, I was able to finally tap into my creative side and apply it to my love of the travel planning process.
The year 2020 was crazy for all of us. It was particularly crazy for me, considering I packed my belongings and moved aboard a sailboat full-time, spending almost 4 months at sea as a pandemic began to unfold. It was barely on the radar when my boyfriend and I set sail the first week of January. We knew it would be challenging, but boy, we had NO IDEA. We made our way from Florida to the Bahamas, navigating through storms, mechanical breakdowns, and ultimately border closings. We were able to check into customs just in time, but restrictions began mounting quickly and all boaters were forbidden to go ashore. We had three weeks of total isolation anchored offshore, until we respectfully conceded as the Bahamian Prime Minister requested all non-citizen cruisers to return to their home country.
Although this expedition was challenging, it certainly had its rewards. We were able to face these challenges head-on and work through them as a team. This transformative experience, in addition to my previous adventures, is what solidified the decision to change my life course and take on a new career. My mission is to inspire travel and design an experience that can also transform you. It may not be as extreme as my adventures, but I have certainly paved the way for you and earned my “street cred”. By providing a connection and experience for you, I am also able to feed my own craving for a global connection. I'm also able to help you avoid the pratfalls that can come with travel in an ever-changing world so you can enjoy the ride and leave the hard work to me. Everybody wins.
Biochemistry... or Spain?
I was hooked!
Why Travel Advising, and Why Now?
Why Work with Me
I am fortunate to have a world of resources at my fingertips, thanks in large part to my partnership with Largay Travel and Virtuoso, an organization of the top travel agencies, travel providers, and destinations worldwide. Through Virtuoso, I am able to offer my clients the kind of exclusive amenities, upgrades, access, and experiences described in the sections below. The depth of service I offer goes well beyond the status quo. Once I understand your individual interests and preferences, I put my industry knowledge and global Virtuoso connections to work. Wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do, I can arrange it — down to the tiniest details.
I am here for you before, during, and after every trip, and look forward to customizing your next amazing travel experience.
Hotel and Resort Benefits
From Argentina to Zambia, I have personal contacts at over 1,200 exceptional Virtuoso-preferred properties in over 100 countries. Through my exclusive Virtuoso arrangements, I am able to offer my clients VIP treatment and complimentary extras.
· Preferred rates and availability
· Room upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability
· Value-added amenities (minimum of $100 value)
· Daily breakfast for two
· Early check-in & late checkout, subject to availability
· Complimentary WiFi
Ocean and River Cruise Benefits
I partner with the world’s leading luxury cruise lines to custom-tailor your at-sea and port experiences. And, as my client, you’ll automatically be eligible for Virtuoso Voyages complimentary extras reserved exclusively for Virtuoso travelers.
· Shipboard credits
· Virtuoso-exclusive shore excursions
· Welcome aboard receptions
· Dedicated onboard hosts
· Private car & driver
· Specialty dining
· Pre-paid gratuities
Tour and Experience Benefits
My Virtuoso preferred destinations & experience partners worldwide will help make the most of your precious leisure time. Wherever you travel, they are a true extension of my services, ensuring that your itineraries perfectly match your tastes and preferences.
· VIP treatment & recognition
· Custom-tailored experiences & itineraries
· Private Virtuoso-exclusive access
Air, Yacht, Auto and Travel Insurance Benefits
Through Virtuoso, I partner with over 75 of the world’s top commercial and yacht and private air carriers, car rental programs, and travel insurance providers to secure negotiated fares products, and services.
· Exclusive negotiated global air fares & upgrades (including Private Jet/Charter)
· Worldwide car rental discounts & perks
· Preferred travel insurance rates & prioritized client services