Joanna Heathcote Bio

joannaJoanna Heathcote was virtually born in transit. As the daughter of a career military officer, international travel was part of the family routine. So, although her birth certificate reads “United Kingdom,” it might easily have been anywhere from the banks of the Nile (where she learned to swim) to the Yorkshire moors (where she developed her love of horses). Her formal education took place in England, Italy and France.

Before joining the workplace, Joanna decided to see as much of the rest of the world as time and funds would permit. While the sixties wound down, she managed to explore the USA by bus before boarding a freighter in San Francisco bound for Singapore, with stops in Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. After a sojourn in Singapore, she joined a small party of British VSO and American Peace Corps workers driving from Southern India to London. During the many months of this journey, she got to see a lot more of the world.

In 1970, Joanna settled in at her first real job – as a travel agent for horses. She worked for a company that specialized in the shipment of racing, breeding, and competition horses throughout the world. Here she discovered that horses have passports and are subject to immigration laws that are quite strict.

Her next job took her to Kenya where for two years she worked on the registry of British-owned land in that country for the British High Commission in Nairobi. It also allowed her to travel extensively throughout Africa during this period.

But the British Isles beckoned and Joanna returned home in 1976. For the next few years, she worked as a tour guide for Take-A-Guide, a car/driver company specializing in private tours throughout Britain. In 1978 she took over the running of the company’s London office where she supervised the planning of client itineraries and lodging. Her duties included visiting hotels recommended by the company in Britain and France.

In 1981, Joanna broadened her knowledge of the hospitality business by working with ITP Villa, a company based in London, that specialized in luxury villa rentals throughout Europe, the Caribbean, and Florida. Again, her work required extensive visiting and evaluating company-recommended properties as well as the development of marketing plans and materials.

In 1985 she rejoined Take-A-Guide in London as head of operations, with overall responsibilities for sales and marketing worldwide. This included many sales and marketing trips to visit travel agents and tour companies in the United States and Europe.

The proverbial seven-year itch prompted Joanna to take a sabbatical from the travel business. In 1993, she volunteered her services pro bono, running a summer program for disadvantaged children in Boston. She spent some time freelance writing and traveling internationally. Several new travel ideas seemed appealing – wine tours in California, horseback riding in Spain and, of course, the hospitality business.

In 1995 she contacted a number of charming, unique luxury hotels she had come to know over the years with a view to establishing herself as a marketing person for them. Her portfolio of hotels includes deluxe boutique hotels in London and Paris, chateaux and manor houses in the French and English countryside and romantic castles in Scotland and Wales. All the hotels are very much Joanna’s personal selections. She bases her choices not only on comfort, friendly staff, good service and location, but also on good food and fine wines. Joanna presently numbers nine Michelin stars amongst her collection of hotels with fine restaurants. All of the hotels she represents are individually owned. Indeed, many are private houses with the owner’s beautiful furnishings, including antiques and fine art, available for guests to enjoy.

Joanna plans to continue to combine her work with her personal interests – discovery of new treasures throughout the world, enjoyment of fine food and wine, and travel…travel…travel.