02 DEC 2016: The team from RIU Hotels and Resorts along with the Sunwing Travel Group hosted a Toronto Christmas lunch with their top producers, as is their tradition since 2012.  Every year the Mallorca based hotel chain manages to deliver some great news to Canadian travel agents at this event, and this year’s announcement was no exception. Hugo Aguilera, director of business development and partner marketing advised that RIU no longer required restaurant reservations at their hotels in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

The announcement is in  response to requests from travel agents (and their clients).

Deana Murphy, Sunwing vice president retail sales said, “It’s just another way of evolving a product and increasing the whole level of customer experience.  Customers love the flexibility of being able to go for dinner when they want.

“In higher end products, this is what the consumer expects.”

Aguilera said that 2016 has been “a really amazing year for RIU” and that “international expansion of the brand has been a key to their success”.

The company built its first property in Asia with a five star resort in Sri Lanka.

Sergi RIUz Piqué, RIU’s newly appointed vice president of business development and partner marketing expanded on the properties in the portfolio.

“In 2010 RIU started our urban city hotel brand with the RIU Plaza Panama, Panama City. Now we have six hotels in the portfolio, two in Europe (Berlin and Dublin) and two in the US with RIU Plaza Miami Beach (that opened 1 ½ years ago) and the new build in RIU Plaza New York Times Square. In Latin America we have RIU Plaza Guadalajara in Mexico, which is an iconic building centrally located.”

Piqué said the Plaza brands are “in the heart of the city” as is their slogan, and they plan to expand into more cities in North and Central America.

Murphy said, “Adding Plaza business hotels is a natural progression, and there is such a loyalty from consumers to the brand. From a businessperson’s perspective, they have vacationed at certain RIUs and they happen to be in New York City on business, they seek the brand they already love and trust.”

Aguilera spoke of the opening of the 1007 room RIU Republica, their adults-only resort in Punta Cana.  “We were very happy because it was sold out after the first week.”

In fact Murphy said, for Sunwing, “It became one of our top selling properties instantly.”

RIU has invested heavily, with $500 million in renovations and new openings.  They plan to do two to three renovations a year.

RIU Palace Cabo San Lucas is one of the properties that will get some work done, and perhaps next year’s Christmas lunch we will have more details of the “swim-out-suites” or the Indian cuisine on the menu.

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Pam Stellini

Pam Stellini delivers her original spin on alternate Tuesdays in her column Without Reservations. (Formerly titled, Notes from A Broad)

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