MIAMI -- Riu Hotels is expanding its portfolio of Mexico properties
and stepping up efforts to create awareness of the chain among U.S.
Riu Palace, a 434-room resort, is scheduled to open in 1999,
according to Lazaro Gutierrez, Riu's marketing director-North
America. The resort will be in Playa del Carmen, near two sister
properties, the 588-room Riu Tequila, which opened Aug. 29, and the
506-room Riu Yucatan, which opened one year ago. The firm, based in
Palma de Mallorca, Spain, also is eyeing Puerto Vallarta for
Gutierrez said Rui has found success since introducing its
products in the U.S. last year. Riu has about 100 hotels worldwide
and has properties in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Florida.
Riu has contracted with several U.S. tour operators, and its Mexico
properties are featured by companies such as Apple, Friendly,
Funjet, GWB, Magnatours, TNT and Transglobal.
Gutierrez said Riu properties are being adapted to the tastes of
U.S. travelers. "We have been investigating what Americans look for
in a vacation, and we now have the right product," he said. Based
on customer feedback, Riu has upgraded facilities and services such
as cuisine, music and overall ambience in order to cater to the
U.S. vacationer, he added.
With increased promotional efforts in the U.S., Riu hopes to
significantly boost the percentage of U.S. guests at Riu Yucatan
from 15% during the high season last year (December to April) to
40% during the upcoming high season. He added that Riu Tequila is
expected to attract an even larger percentage of Americans.
Riu will launch a trade advertising campaign, continue its
consumer radio advertisements and begin a cooperative advertising
campaign with tour operators in major newspapers. Other promotional
initiatives include participation in major trade shows and boosting
the sales efforts of its U.S. office in Miami with presentations
for tour operators and travel agencies. Riu's main target markets
in the U.S. include Boston, New York and Minneapolis plus other
parts of the Midwest.
Riu's properties mainly consist of four- and five-star resorts.
Its Palace line is the firm's most upscale brand. In Mexico, the
company's roster includes two inclusive five-star resorts in the
Riviera Maya--south of Cancun--Riu Tequila and Riu Yucatan. The
properties mainly cater to families, couples and honeymooners. Both
resorts offer a variety of facilities, water sports, entertainment
and dining options as well as a supervised children's program.
Gutierrez said Riu distinguishes itself from other inclusive
resorts with a heavy focus on personalized service and more
inclusions. To that end, the properties have a general manager and
a host manager who greets guests in the lobby to make sure there
are no lines, Gutierrez said.
For dinner, the resorts operate on a cruise-ship concept,
utilizing assigned tables and waiters. "Guests can be absolutely
sure they are seated for dinner without standing in line, the
waiter becomes familiar with their needs, and they feel more
comfortable with the ambience," Gutierrez said.
Riu's inclusive concept does not exclude anything, he added.
"Everything is included, including the minibar in the guest rooms,
which are always restocked," Gutierrez said. Other features
designed to create more of an upscale, inclusive flair include
using only china and glassware in all of its restaurants and
requiring men to wear long pants at dinner.
The two Riu properties in Playa del Carmen are low-rise resorts
with a rich Mexican hacienda style in architecture and atmosphere,
according to Gutierrez. Riu Yucatan sits on the beach, while Riu
Tequila is set back from the water, fronting the 18-hole golf
course that is part of the Playacar development. With Riu Tequila's
sprawling layout, the property offers a shuttle service around the
grounds and to the beach. Gutierrez said the main difference
between the two adjacent properties is the "Club" concept at Riu
Tequila, which offers a highly personalized atmosphere and an array
of activities and entertainment.
Through Dec. 21, inclusive nightly starting rates for the two
properties in Playa del Carmen are $100 per person, double, at Riu
Tequila and $115 at Riu Yucatan. An agent rate of $35 per person,
double, is available at Riu Tequila through Dec. 15. Interested
agents can request the rate by faxing the property at (011) 52-987
Riu Hotels, Phone: (800) 327-5678 or (305) 604-3338, Fax: (305)