RIU doubles down on North American market as bookings continue to boom

TORONTO — The RIU Hotels & Resorts team, in town this week courtesy of Sunwing to share updates with the trade, reports that business for RIU properties has recovered strongly following the pandemic with 2022 being stronger than 2019.

“Clients who didn’t travel for a long time are now doing all the travelling they missed,” Armin Kaestner, VP Sales, Contracting & BD for RIU in Canada, USA, Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica & Panama, told Travelweek during yesterday’s interview.

For the remainder of 2023, forward booking trends are positive, with double-digit increases. The Canadian market, at several RIU properties in the Americas during the winter, account for 400 rooms daily.

RIU is answering to two major trends, said Kaestner.

“The first, after the pandemic, people are willing to spend a little bit more,” he said. “They’re looking for higher room categories and higher amenities, so this is why we created the Elite Club. We actually never thought about the Elite Club before the pandemic. We started thinking about it when travel started coming back and agents told us that people are looking for higher room categories and are willing to pay extra for, for example, nice drinks.

“The second trend is that we see more and more groups travelling like groups of friends and multi-generational travel. We have a huge amount of connecting rooms and are the only hotel chain where you can book these rooms and have them guaranteed. This is a huge selling point for us.”


RIU’s new ‘Elite Club’ is a preferred club concept being added in some of the adults-only Palace properties in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Included amongst the exclusive benefits of this new category are the best locations for rooms with the finest views, premium drinks, a private lounge, separate check-in area, guaranteed late check-out until 1 p.m., early check-in according to availability and a special beach area. Bonuses in the room are a welcome kit, snacks restocked daily in the minibar and premium brands of alcohol in the liquor dispensers.

One new build for the company is a Palace Hotel in Trelawny, Jamaica, with 700+ rooms. It will have its own waterpark, swim-out rooms, new colour concept in the rooms and improved bedding. The property is being designed with an increased focus on North American markets, says the team. European markets are already saturated for the brand with no room left for growth, so RIU is concentrating on North America right now.

On the renovation front, RIU Palace Macao Punta Cana and RIU Palace Pacifico Puerto Vallarta are both currently being refurbished.

Closer to home, a new RIU city hotel is under construction in Toronto’s theatre district and is close to completion. Its façade has three heritage homes integrated into the front of the building, giving it a historical feel. The property is focused on the leisure market.


“We have a property for everyone!” said Laura Castellanos Rodriguez, Sales Director D.R. and Associated VP Sales, Contracting & BD for RIU in Canada, USA, Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica & Panama.

RIU has two product lines: Beach Hotels, which are either Classic or Palace, and Plaza Hotels, which are city hotels. Palace properties are aimed at markets with bigger budgets, versus Classic.

Kaestner noted that RIU’s adults-only Classic properties have been a big success, because they’re at a strong price point. That option didn’t necessarily exist before, since adults-only was traditionally a more expensive rate compared to family hotels. Classic properties have been selling like crazy following the pandemic, Kaestner added.

RIU properties are available exclusively through Sunwing in Canada. And travel agents can take advantage of RIU’s loyalty programs.

Visit RIU.com to learn more about all the properties, or check out Sunwing.ca.

Seen in the main pic (above), members of RIU’s team gather at Sunwing’s offices, Aug. 10, 2023 (left to right): Laura Castellanos Rodriguez, Sales Director D.R. (Associated to VP Sales, Contracting & BD for RIU in Canada, USA, Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica & Panama); Jennifer Lucas, Director, Product for Sunwing Vacations; Valerie Ward, BDM for RIU in ON, BC, AB & SK; and Armin Kaestner, VP Sales, Contracting & BD for RIU in Canada, USA, Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica & Panama


Travel Week Logo

Get travel news right to your inbox!