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Freeform Globetrotting with the “Punk Rocker of Luxury Travel,” Crystal Vinisse Thomas.

One of the most creative people in travel, Hyatt vice president and luxury and lifestyle leader Crystal Vinisse Thomas joins Bruce to discuss the joys of unplanned travel, new hotspots at home and abroad, and how a diversifying industry is improving the travel experience for all.

As the vice president and global leader of luxury and lifestyle brands for Hyatt, Crystal Vinisse Thomas has her fingers on the pulse of all things trending in the travel industry. She’s also a trendsetter herself, with an energy, style, and creativity that have helped her become one of the youngest and most dynamic leaders in luxury travel (and prompted Bruce to dub her the “Punk Rocker of Luxury Travel”). In this episode, Crystal joins Bruce to discuss everything from how living abroad made her a better person to how industry diversity will elevate the travel experience.


After touching on her past role at Beats by Dre—where she worked closely with sports superstars including Serena Williams, Tom Brady, and Lebron James—Crystal talks about the growing popularity of so-called second cities. The increased interest in road trips and the migration away from metropolises during the pandemic put a spotlight on places like Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee, Oceanside in California, and many other regional destinations. Crystal predicts the continued rise of these cities and others in the U.S. and abroad, where she cites destinations including Vienna, which she calls “The New Berlin.”

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Memphis will be the location of the first hotel from a new brand Crystal is spearheading called Caption by Hyatt. The brand’s hotels will emphasize authentic and meaningful travel and a come-as-you-are philosophy, with local vendors, cuisine, and bars and beverages that accurately reflect the diversity of communities in each city.


Picking out a great hotel is the first thing on Crystal’s list when traveling at home and abroad. But aside from a place to sleep, she likes to keep her plans wide open and embrace the spontaneity of experiencing a destination. The first item on her to-do list when arriving at a new destination is to walk around aimlessly. Rather than relying on guidebooks and tours, she seeks the insight of locals to uncover hidden gems and unplanned experiences that provide a reflection of what life in the city is really like.


Crystal’s particular style of travel has led to many serendipitous moments in her travels and her career. After hearing her conversation with Bruce, you will no doubt consider trading out rigid travel itineraries for her more fluid, spontaneous travel style. Stay tuned to hear one of Bruce’s most cherished spontaneous travel experiences, in Rwanda, in the Wallin Wrap-Up.

Hosted by: Bruce Wallin

Produced and edited by: AJ Moseley

Music by: Joey Salvia

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