- RIU opened its first urban hotel in Panama City in 2010. Today, with another seven hotels in the portfolio, the chain is continuing to grow around the world, with future openings in London, Toronto and a second hotel in New York
RIU Hotels & Resorts is celebrating the first decade of its line of urban hotels, Riu Plaza. The chain launched its city hotel brand with the aspiration to reach the world’s top cities, always in a premium location, and geared towards business travellers, but also towards those who visit big cities for leisure. It is now present in New York, Miami, San Francisco, Guadalajara (Mexico), Panama City, Berlin, Dublin and Madrid. Furthermore, it has three ongoing projects to continue its expansion, in Toronto, London and a second hotel in New York, which are already under construction.
“When we finally decided to open our first city hotel, I dare say it was a surprise to many, including our own staff. I remember the hard work of investigating, adapting, the many trips and the nerves. But I look back today and I think we did very well. Ten years have gone by in which RIU has shown that it is possible to run a good urban hotel whilst staying faithful to its tradition and service. If we compare ourselves with brands who have a long tradition in cities, we are in an excellent position. That is also what our customers say, and in the end they are the ones who determine whether you’ve got it right or wrong”. explains Luis Riu, CEO of RIU Hotels & Resorts.
“Riu Plaza has proved a source of great satisfaction. Opening our first hotel in Manhattan was a dream come true for me, as was the most recent one in San Francisco, not to mention Riu Plaza España, of course, which became the brand’s flagship as soon as it opened. Riu Plaza is growing slowly but steadily. It is very hard to find the perfect location in the world’s premier cities, but when you do, it is the main key to success,” Luis Riu affirms. He also pointed out that “RIU’s brand image has grown hugely thanks to its presence in these great capitals.”
In 2010, and with more than 50 years of experience in sun and beach hotels, RIU Hotels opened its first urban hotel, Riu Plaza Panama, with 644 rooms and magnificent conference rooms. It was a major corporate challenge for RIU, because it entailed a totally new product and an unknown customer profile for the company: urban tourists and guests more focused on conferences and events. After months of adaptation, the team’s hard work came to fruition and Riu Plaza Panama emerged as one of the city’s best hotels. Since then, it has had more than 700,000 customers, it has organised 9,700 events and it has hosted stars such as Alejandro Sanz, Marc Anthony, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.
Following the great challenge that was Panama City, in 2011 the hotel Riu Plaza Guadalajara, an impressive skyscraper with 550 rooms, opened in Mexico. Since it opened, it has become the biggest hotel in the MICE segment in the region, with world-famous clients such as IBM and Honda. It is also a favourite place for local customers to hold parties and celebrations, and it is the go-to hotel for Mexican celebrities such as the boxer Canelo or the journalist Loret de Mola. It has also hosted the likes of Ricky Martin, Romeo Santos and David Bisbal.
In 2015, the company decided to take the plunge in Europe, and specifically in the capital of the country that has traditionally been its greatest market and ally: Germany. Since it opened, the hotel Riu Plaza Berlin has represented RIU in the country, and since 2016 it has also been the venue for the biggest party of the ITB Berlin international tourism fair, which more than 300 guests from the global tourist industry attend.
That same year, the company opened its first urban hotel in the United States, Riu Plaza Miami Beach. This hotel is popular for the delicious and complete buffet breakfasts included with the rooms, and it has a prime location on Collins Avenue, with direct access to the famous promenade and Miami Beach, just a few minutes from Ocean Drive and its restaurants and bars. It is also the perfect choice for shopaholics because it is close to the famous Lincoln Road and it offers direct transport to Miami’s best malls.
In March 2016, RIU conquered the Big Apple by building its first hotel in New York, the hotel Riu Plaza New York Times Square, a 29-floor skyscraper with 647 rooms. As it is in the city that receives the most tourists in the world each year, this hotel focuses on urban tourists. Therefore it offers the best services to make their stay as comfortable as possible so they can explore the city from this prime location on 46th Street and 8th Avenue.
A few months later, RIU expanded its urban line in Europe with Riu Plaza The Gresham Dublin, on the famous O'Connell Street in Dublin. This hotel, located in an iconic building that dates back 200 years, has 323 rooms, 20 meeting rooms and one of the best breakfasts in Dublin. Its guests and visitors can enjoy lunch or a pint of beer in Toddy’s restaurant, or tea and cake in the Writers’ Lounge café.
We had to wait three more years for the Riu Plaza line to reach Spain, but when it did, it did it in style. The chain acquired the iconic Edificio España and converted it into the hotel Riu Plaza España, the urban line’s flagship hotel. With no less than 130,000 guests in its first year, it has become one of Madrid’s must-see places thanks to its 360° viewpoint terrace on the 27th floor. This unique space in Madrid, together with its suspended glass walkway at a height of more than 100 metres, has welcomed 680,000 people since it opened, with an average of 2,500 visits each day. In addition, its 3,000 m2 of multifunctional spaces were venue to more than 400 events in its first year and showcased celebrities from the worlds of music, fashion, cinema and television.
Also in 2019, RIU announced its third urban hotel in the United States, this time on the west coast: Riu Plaza Fisherman`s Wharf. Close to the well-known Pier 39 and with 531 fabulous rooms, it is the ideal hotel for visiting the city of San Francisco for both business and pleasure, as it has large meeting spaces as well as a pool zone.
In the next few years, the Riu Plaza brand will also find its home in Canada and the United Kingdom. In London it has acquired a building next to Victoria Station, where construction works have already begun to convert it into a 4-star hotel with 350 rooms. Meanwhile, in Canada it has selected Toronto, the fifth largest city in North America, which will be the home of the newly-built Riu Plaza Toronto hotel, with 350 rooms, meeting rooms, gym, bar and restaurant. In addition to these new projects, a second hotel is being built in New York, the Hotel Riu Plaza Manhattan Times Square, located just metres from its older brother. It will offer the same services, but it will have more rooms: no less than 656 of them.