LAS VEGAS — The Crystal Skye, a luxury charter plane and one of Crystal Luxury Holdings’ latest ventures, is an undeniably good-looking aircraft.
The Boeing 777-200LR is tastefully outfitted in a light color scheme, interspersed with the blues Crystal frequently uses on its cruise ships. Take its seats, for example — light tan leather with blue stitching — or the carpet, with different hues of white and blue waves intermingling throughout the plane, forming what the company calls “bespoke Crystal VIP carpet.”
But it’s not just the impressive design of the Skye that will make a guest’s onboard experience memorable.
“It’s like a beautiful woman: If she doesn’t have brains and personality, it would get boring very quickly,” said Crystal president and CEO Edie Rodriguez. “Our aircraft is beautiful from a hardware perspective, but it’s really the Crystal service and experience that makes her so very special.”
The Skye was previously to be used on Crystal’s air tours program, but the itineraries were canceled earlier this year and the plane will instead be chartered.
I had the chance to explore the Skye last week at McCarran Airport here during Virtuoso Travel Week when Rodriguez invited the media onboard for a look.
Our first stop was the airplane’s lounge. Its centerpiece is a full bar that could accommodate 10 passengers, several couch-like seats under the windows and four tables with six swiveling seats apiece. The tables could be set for dining or used for gaming.
A slender buffet gives some additional table space in the center of the lounge, and another is located on the wall that divides the lounge and the cabin.
The main cabin area is comfortably spacious. Eighty-eight seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. Each has a 74-inch pitch and can fully recline to 73.5 inches long,
It’s no surprise that the cabin area offers both comfortable lie-flat seats and plenty of room to move around them, since those are the things Rodriguez told me she values most when traveling.
“I love the space,” she said. “For me, I love to be in a flat-bed configuration on long flights and have space around me. I don’t want to feel that it’s a hassle getting in and out of the bed version.”
Each seat also offers plenty of entertainment options with an entertainment system and 24-inch monitor as well as iPads, noise-canceling headphones and unlimited WiFi. The curious can even tune into channels with camera views outside the plane or listen in on the cockpit’s communications with ground control.
Just beyond the cabin was my favorite feature of the Skye: The Crystal SkyeCellar, home to more than 200 bottles of wine.
In addition to staff such as butlers and a mixologist, the Skye also boasts the talents of executive chef Francoise Van Zyl, who Rodriguez said is providing “Michelin-inspired cuisine at 30,000 feet.”
Preparing meals like that in an aircraft’s pressurized environment does pose some unique challenges, Van Zyl told me. For example, wine absolutely has to breathe before being served, cheese has to rest in advance, and flavoring food properly can be difficult (Van Zyl usually provides guests with a dusting of seasoning on the side, enabling them to add it to their bites as they see fit).
But, working with catering teams around the world, Van Zyl said he is prepared to create dishes that will thrill.
“I’ve traveled on so many different airlines and jets,” he said. “I grew up in the airline industry, so this is the best place for me to be.”
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