The international RIU chain was founded in Mallorca by the Riu family in 1953 as a small holiday firm and is still owned by the family’s third generation. The company specialises in holiday resorts and 70% of its establishments offer its acclaimed All Inclusive by RIU service. With the inauguration of its first city hotel in 2010, RIU is expanding its range of products with its own line of city hotels called Riu Plaza. RIU Hotels & Resorts now has more than 100 hotels in 19 countries which welcome over 4 million guests a year and provide jobs for a total of 28,000 employees. RIU is currently the world’s 30th ranked chain, one of the Caribbean’s most popular and the third largest in Spain.
1953 – opening of the first hotel
In November 1953, Juan Riu Masmitja and his wife Maria Bertran Espigule acquired, with their son Luis Riu Bertran, the San Francisco hotel, a small 80-bed establishment located in Playa de Palma (Mallorca, Spain). This was to be the first hotel of many in the future of the international hotel chain.
The 60s saw a real tourist boom in the Balearic Islands, which Luis Riu Bertran actively contributed to through his partnership with the German tour operator, Dr. Tigges (known as TUI since 1968). Following the consolidation of charter operations between Germany and Mallorca in the summer months, Luis Riu went one step further in strengthening the development of tourism in the Balearic Islands, by also promoting Mallorca as a winter destination.
During the 60s and 70s, the company underwent significant expansion in the Balearic Islands, consolidating its business partnerships all the while. In 1976, Riu Hotels S.A. was established along with TUI (Touristik Union International) in order to build new hotels.
1985 - first hotel outside the balearic Islands
In the 80s, RIU began to expand into other destinations. Its first hotel outside the Balearic Islands opened in 1985, on the island of Gran Canaria. The Riu Palmeras at that time gave a hint of the successful initiative it was to become, as today the Canary Islands are one of RIU’s main destinations, with over 20 hotels located there.
1991 – first international hotel
With the 1990s came the opening of RIU’s first international hotel. The Riu Taino began to welcome its first guests in November 1991 in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. This was the first step in RIU Hotels’ impressive growth in America, where it currently has over 30 hotels. The partnership with TUI was strengthened even further in 1993, with the creation of the company RIUSA II SA, with TUI and RIU each owning 50%, which operates the RIU line of hotels.
1998 – Generational change-over
Following the death of Luis Riu Bertran, his children Carmen and Luis Riu, the third generation of the family, took on the post of managing directors of the chain, a position they continue to hold today.
2010 - First urban hotel
During the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, RIU underwent great expansion in countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Aruba, Bahamas, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Morocco, and Tunisia. After 56 years specialising in holiday accommodations, in 2010 RIU Hotels & Resort embarked on one of its greatest challenges as a company: the launch of its Riu Plaza urban brand. In September 2010, it opened the Riu Plaza Panama in Panama City, the first RIU hotel in the country and the first under its city hotel brand. The company's commitment to this new line of business was consolidated in 2011 with the opening of the Riu Plaza Guadalajara, in Mexico, and the Riu Plaza Berlin, which it will be opening in the German capital.
Great challenges for 2016: First hotels in New York and Asia
In 2016 the most emblematic project of the Riu Plaza line materialised: the opening of the first RIU hotel in New York City, the Riu Plaza New York Times Square, located in the heart of Manhattan. Internationalisation has been a key to RIU's success over the past 25 years, and will continue to be one in 2016 thanks to the company's newest challenge: Asia. With the opening of the first hotel in Sri Lanka, RIU is exporting to Asia the business model of holiday accommodations that it took to America in the 1990s with the first hotel in the Dominican Republic. For the next few years, there are also two other large projects underway on the Asian continent: Dubai, where it will open, with its partner Nakheel, the first 24-Hour All Inclusive resort in the region; and, the purchase of two islets in the Maldives, where RIU will build a 174-room Riu Palace hotel and a 248-room Riu Classic hotel. The project is currently in the design stage, with the goal of bringing RIU's 24-hour All Inclusive model to this exotic destination in 2018.