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 city hotel
During the 90s and early 2000s, RIU underwent major expansion in several countries, including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Aruba, the Bahamas, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Morocco, and Tunisia.
After 56 years of specialising in holiday resorts, in 2010 RIU Hotels & Resorts embarked upon one of his biggest challenges yet as a company: the launch of its urban hotel brand Riu Plaza. In September 2010, the Riu Plaza Panama opened its doors in Panama City; it was the first RIU hotel in the country and the first of RIU’s city hotels. The company’s commitment for this new line of business was consolidated in 2011 with the opening of the Riu Plaza Guadalajara in Mexico, and the Riu Plaza New York Times Square, which will open at the end of 2015.