TORONTO — There’s no stopping Riu Hotels & Resorts. The resort chain is expanding its portfolio at a rapid rate of growth and with so much interest from source markets including Canada, the U.S., Europe and Latin America, “I think we’re going to keep on this expansion course for a while,” said Oliver Kluth, Riu’s Senior Vice President, Sales & Business Development.
One new property, the 452-room, adults-only Riu Reggae, is scheduled to open in December 2016 next to Riu Palace Jamaica. The latter property is getting an extension with an extra 52 rooms and a new pool, slated for completion Feb. 22, 2016.
The adults-only Riu Republica will open in May 2016 on the Macao beachfront in Punta Cana. Another new resort, at Punta Nizuc in Mexico, was delayed but is expected to break ground at the end of this year and open in December 2016.
Riu broke into the adults-only market two years ago and “we’ve got some catching up to do,” said Kluth. “It’s been a success for us and we can do more rooms in the adults-only segment. But in no room are we abandoning our family product. It just gives us more room to play.”
There are plenty of renovation projects too. Riu Playacar in Playa del Carmen reopens this Saturday after a six-month refurbishment. At the same time, Hotel Riu Lupita, also in Playa del Carmen, will close on Saturday for a quick room refurbishment, reopening Dec. 12. Riu Lupita will also get a new Mexican a la carte restaurant. Looking ahead, Riu Palace Las Americas in Cancun will close in September or October 2016 and reopen in November 2016 as another adults-only property.
Riu Negril rounds out the list of renovated resorts, with work currently underway and a scheduled reopening date of Nov. 20.
The Canadian market is up more than 10% for Riu year-to-date. Meanwhile business from Riu’s other source markets is up too. Kluth’s message to the Canadian market is “don’t wait too long” to book Riu vacations this winter. “Bookings are coming on really strong from every market.”
Eric Rodriguez, Sunwing Travel Group’s Vice President, Product Development, said Riu’s commitment to continuous innovation and investment in its product keeps passengers coming back. “It’s certainly not a resort chain to rest on its laurels,” he said. “People appreciate the consistency.”
When Riu opens a new resort in an under-developed destination, the destination takes off, Rodriguez added. “Two years ago we struggled with one flight to Panama. Now with Riu Playa Blanca, we’re up to five flights a week. We always want them to expand to new Caribbean destinations.”
The Riu Specialist program, launched in Canada last year, has been a big success. As a reward, Riu will host the top 25 producing travel agents at a secret Riu resort getaway in June 2016. Agents must be Riu Specialists to quality and all bookings (Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2015) must be registered at riuspecialist.com by Jan. 31, 2016. Some 1,600 Canadian travel agents are Riu Specialists. Kluth said he was thrilled with how fast Canadian agents signed up for the program and completed the modules. “It shows there’s a lot of interest in Riu product among Canadian agents.”