Crystal Cruises has launched a luxury jet to stay competitive

Crystal Luxury Air Boeing 777-200ER photographed on January 7, 2016 from Wolfe Air Learjet 25B/ Supplied

Evolve or die.

These are the words of Edie Rodriguez, ‎CEO and president of Crystal Cruises.

This week, at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, the company unveiled their latest offering: Crystal Skye, a privately owned Boeing 777.

The uber-luxe plane is available for global charter or as a Crystal package to get guests from experience to experience, for an average price of $US55,000 an hour for 1 to 88 passengers.

“If you wanted to just charter the aircraft from New York to Paris that would run about $US75,000,” says Rodriguez.

Almost every part of the charter experience can be tailored to suit guest preferences, from the itinerary length, locations, and the onboard menus, designed and cooked by executive chef Francois Van Zyl.

The reconfigured space inside the jet features a dedicated lounge with a stand-up bar and dinner tables and a wine cellar, making it is the largest, most spacious private luxury tour aircraft in the industry.

And of course, the butler service, a feature Crystal Cruises has built its reputation on since it was founded in 1989, is also included.

Speaking to Rodriguez in Las Vegas, Business Insider asked why a jet plays an important part of the company’s mission to become “the world’s most luxurious hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio”.

“I have been with Crystal for four years,” says Rodriguez.

“When I came to Crystal I told the original chairman who hired me, and the new chairman who acquired us two and a half years ago, the same thing… brands either evolve or they die. We must harness the power of the brand equity, but in a very specific manner.

“I like to listen to our guests, and what was resoundingly clear from our guests was that they love Crystal Cruises but they are going on other vacations throughout the year, they’re spending their money elsewhere, however they love Crystal so much – they’re such brand fans – they would prefer to do it in the Crystal-style.”

Courtesy of Tillberg Design of Sweden/ Supplied

It’s not just Crystal diversifying to meet the growing needs of customers. The Ritz-Carlton has announced its first super yacht and the Four Seasons has a custom-designed private jet coming soon.

All three brands, major players in luxury industry, have recognised their loyal customers are willing to follow the brand into other markets, and so have adapted accordingly.

Built it and they will come

“So sort of ‘if you build it they will come’,” says Rodriguez.

“What we have determined is that we can no longer just be Crystal Cruises, ‘the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line’, we have now evolved to Crystal, ‘the world’s most luxurious lifestyle and hospitality brand portfolio.’”

The critical moment came in 2015 when the brand was acquired by global leisure and hospitality company Genting Hong Kong and embarked on an ambitious expansion to evolve its products and markets.

Since then it has rebranded as Crystal, Ltd. and now comprises Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises, Crystal Luxury Air and Crystal AirCruises, with new vessels brand extensions set to launch over the next five years.

“The world is truly our oyster,” says Rodriguez. “Now, [we] can offer a guest a way to get to a cruise, a way to get to the yacht expedition, a way to get to the river experience.

“We wouldn’t be doing any of it if there wasn’t a demand.”

The Crystal Skye lounge/ Supplied

*This author travelled to Las Vegas as a guest of Virtuoso.

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