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RIU to open fifth property in Jamaica, caters to adults-only

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2013 | 5:57 PM

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer


Twelve years after Jamaica's first Spanish hotel investor pushed back at claims he was crazy to invest here, Luis Riu is about to open his fifth property on Jamaica’s north coast.

The 238-room RUI Palace Jamaica resort will open in Montego Bay by December 6, nine days ahead of the official kick-off of the winter tourist season.

The hotel will be the smallest RIU property in Jamaica and will cater a different clientele, said Rui, who gave The Gleaner an exclusive preview of the property on Monday.

"This new hotel will be a specialized hotel for adults. This means the service will be more personalized and clients will enjoy great attention to detail," he said.

The property will feature carry three categories of rooms - junior suites, suites and jacuzzi suites.

The latest investment is valued at US$43 million, including the cost of construction, land and equipment.

In sync with the features, clients expect at a RIU Palace Jamaica resort, Riu said guests will get: "24-hour room service, full size bottle dispenser, separate shower and hydromassage bath tubs, bathrobe, 42’’ flat screen TV, free WIFI or the fully stocked mini bar, all of which is included in the all-inclusive by RIU programme".

The hotel also features five restaurants, three bars, two swimming pools with chill-out areas, a gym, one conference room and free WIFI throughout the property.

Riu said the new property will create 185 direct jobs. "To these, we have to add the creation of indirect jobs such as spa staff, the taxi and transfer drivers, the travel agency representatives, suppliers etc," he said.

It has been 12 years since the Riu family opened their first hotel in Jamaica. "At that point we were the first Spanish hotel company to do so and all of my colleagues and partners told me it was a crazy idea," he said.

Riu noted that time and events have proven them wrong.

"Jamaica has addressed the major concerns for the international tourists and has grown in professional services and infrastructures.The beauty of its beaches, its wild nature, the charisma of its people, and the culture and reggae music did the rest," Riu said.

"The trust of our clients and partners tour operators is allowing us to grow with the confidence of increasing the number of clientele we will attract," he added.

RIU is renovating and upgrading its existing properties, as well as specialising in the ‘adults only’ segment with this new hotel to boost business.

To maintain trust in the brand and to attract new clientele, Riu’s strategy is to adapt to new market trends, the hotelier said.

"We are constantly renovating our gastronomic offer with novelties such as the micro-cuisine in our Riu Palace buffets, or creating new exclusive areas, such as the Deluxe Wing in our ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios hotel, an area that will be reserved for over 18 year olds only," he told The Gleaner.

In addition, he said there was plan for the total refurbishment of the Riu Negril Hotel. That hotel will close in August 2014 and will re-open in the winter with new and modern looks as well as new services.

After the Riu Palace Jamaica, the next scheduled opening is the Riu Playa Blanca in Panama in April 2014. The all-inclusive property is located by the beach in Clocle.

"On top of this, we will continue with our plans to update and upgrade our existing properties investing in big refurbishment projects such as the Riu Negril or the Riu Cancun in Mexico."

In the meantime, the RIU group CEO is reporting the best summer since 2008 for the group's Jamaican properties.

"It has been the best since we opened our fourth property in the country: the Riu Montego Bay, which also coincided with the international economic crisis."

The resorts main source markets remain the United States, Canada and United Kingdom and Riu is optimistic about the coming season, due to early bookings as well as the opening up of markets in Scandinavia and Russia.

"The sales for this winter are, at this time of the year, considerably higher than for the previous years and that is due to recovery of the bigger source markets for Jamaica such as USA and Canada."

The RIU boss said the properties are also popular with Jamaicans.

"We believe that the new Riu Palace Jamaica will be a good option for locals seeking a romantic getaway," he said.


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