Travel Agent first told you in late June about Riu Hotels & Resorts’ plans to open its first city hotel in Panama City, Panama. With the property slated to open Wednesday, September 1, we felt it was the perfect time to conduct a Q & A with Riu CEO Luis Riu about the evolving direction of the company.
Here are the most notable questions and answers from our chat with Luis Riu.
Q: Why Panama?
A: Panama is a big city that is now growing and developing. Its strategic position and its roll as hub that connects North and South America turns it into a key point for business in the continent. On top of that, its famous canal, its shopping and its national parks make Panama City a very complete destination. For all of this, Riu saw in the country a great opportunity to present its new urban product line in Panama City.
Q: What does this mean for Riu in Latin America? Can we expect more Riu properties in Central and South America? If so, which destinations are being considered?
A: Our development in America started in the Dominican Republic in 1991 and grew to Mexico and other Caribbean destinations with 100 percent leisure hotels. In the past years Riu has diversified its investment destinations going to new destinations in the pacific coast of Mexico or Costa Rica, where we opened our first hotel in November 2009. We are now opening our first Riu Plaza hotel and the choice has been Central America. We will continue growing with our urban brand and the second hotel will open in Guadalajara City (Jalisco’s capital in Mexico) in June 2011.
Q: How many more city hotels/business hotels can we expect from Riu? Will this continue to be a growing brand?
A: We are evaluating and working on several Riu Plaza projects in different continents, but, for now, none of them are advanced enough to be able to comment any details.
Q: Will we one day see as many Riu business hotels as Riu leisure hotels?
A: Leisure hotels are our main business and will still be the strong part of our company and our main investing focus. But, as they say, ‘never say never’. Destiny is full of surprises. In any case, I think this will still be Riu’s trend during the third generation. We will have to wait and see what happens when the fourth generation of the Riu family takes over.