Open Jaw's Nina Slawek with Riu's Sergi Ruiz Piqué
Sunwing's Anna Tarkowski & Deana Murphy
Riu's Hugo Aguilera & Sunwing's David Wright
A fine meal at downtown Toronto’s Jazz Bistro was the perfect occasion to learn that guests of Riu Hotels & Resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean will no longer need to get up early in the morning to make reservations for à la carte restaurants. The popular hotel group has tweaked its operations so that pre-booking is no longer required.
The news was greeted with a round of applause from the agents gathered for an event that is becoming a tradition – the 4th annual holiday luncheon hosted by bosom buddies Sunwing and Riu Hotels.
David Wright, Sunwing’s Director of Sales Ontario & Atlantic Canada, says the exclusive relationship between Riu and Sunwing’s Signature brand continues to pay dividends for each. “There’s a lot of trust in the marketplace for Riu,” says Wright. “People won’t stray. Agents tell us their clients frequently say ‘I don’t care where I go as long as it’s a Riu.”
It’s been a busy year for the family-owned Spanish hotelier. The openings of Riu Republica in Punta Cana and Riu Reggae in Montego Bay added nearly 1,500 adults-only rooms to the Riu portfolio.
Hugo Aguilera, Riu’s Director of Business Development & Partner Marketing, USA & Canada, says the company has found a sweet spot with 25-35 year olds by offering Palace brand-level amenities at ‘Classic’ Riu brand properties, and keeping the price-point reasonable.
“The concept has been really well accepted. We’ve opened 7 adults-only properties in the past couple of years and there are many more to come. We’ve had a really great response, to both Palace and Classic properties.”
Also representing Riu at the event was Sergi Ruiz Pique, V.P. Business Development & Partner Marketing. Now based in MIA, he’s focusing on Riu Plaza Hotels, the group’s fast-growing and increasingly high-profile city brand.
There are now 6, including the flagship Hotel Riu Plaza New York Times Square, as well as ‘heart of the city’ locations in Berlin, Dublin, Panama City, Guadalajara and Miami – which is offered in Sunwing’s winter program.
Ruiz Pique told Open Jaw that the Riu Plaza New York Times Square is the culmination of a long-time dream of the Riu family. They own the land and the building at 46th and 8th, and it was the most expensive project the company has ever undertaken at over $400 million.
Ruiz Pique says Riu is looking at several key cities in North America for the Plaza brand, and hinted that a Riu sign might rise north of the 49th one day soon. Had he noticed the ‘For Sale’ sign on the Trump International Hotel & Tower? He had, Ruiz Pique replied, but said with a wink that he thought it might be a little pricey.
Aguilera thanked agents for their business and said Riu would continue to invest in new and existing properties to exceed the expectations of their clients. He also mentioned another Riu distinction that drew more applause from agents – “We don’t do time-shares.”