Explore with us the history of the RIU chain

date_range 13 August, 2019 label , , question_answer 32 Comments

RIU Hotels & Resorts has a wonderful history. From the very beginning, it has been characterised by its outstanding personality. Why is this? Although today it has an extensive range of hotels all over the world, the chain started out as a small family hotel and has been managed by successive generations of the Riu family, which has put its personal stamp on the business.

RIU’s philosophy and style, as well as its service, date back to the origins of the chain. From the start, the goal has always been to meet the customer service standards still in place today. Are you interested in knowing about RIU’s first steps and where its values come from?

First RIU hotel

In order to understand the history of RIU, we have to travel into the past, specifically to the year 1953, when Juan Riu, founder and the first generation to manage the chain, acquired together with his wife, María Bertrán, and their son, Luis Riu Bertrán, the chain’s first hotel in Palma de Mallorca: Riu San Francisco.A small establishment with barely 80 beds, today it remains in operation and can be considered the foundational stone of the hotel chain.

Hotel Riu San Francisco was the first establishment of the RIU chain

Hotel Riu San Francisco was the first establishment of the RIU chain.

A honeymoon that marked a before and after

Luis Riu Bertrán was a visionary. Already working with his father in the business, he realised that Mallorca could be an attractive vacation destination to offer in Germany. With that in mind, on his honeymoon with his wife Pilar Güell, he took a plane to Germany with the aim of selling rooms to tour operators. To their surprise, on the first day they sold everything they had to the agency Dr. Tigges, currently TUI, allowing them to enjoy the rest of their honeymoon. This “anecdote” is a key element of our history. It was not until1976 that Riu Hotels S.A. was established with TUI (Touristik Union International) for the building of new hotels.

Luis Riu Bertrán was a great visionary, representing the second of generation of the business

Luis Riu Bertrán was a great visionary, representing the second generation of the business.

The tourist boom that the Balearic Islands underwent in the 1960s did not go unnoticed by Luis Riu Bertrán. In fact, he played a central role in being the precursor of the first charter flights from Germany.At this time, it is important to note, RIU’s customer service philosophy began to take shape. Luis Riu Bertrán started carrying out the first customer surveys. For him, a satisfied guest always returns and their opinion is important in order to improve. As a result, a brilliant philosophy of service was born.

Regarding this generation, we can say the crucial factor was instinct and that Luis Riu Bertrán, along with his father, took the first steps in building the business. It was at this point when RIU’s key marketing elements and its long relationship with TUI emerged.

In 1991 the internationalisation that would prove so important to the third-generation management began with the opening of Riu Taino in Punta Cana.This was Riu’s first foray into America, where it now has more than 30 hotels.

The third generation of the family joins RIU

In 1998, after the death of Luis Riu Bertrán, his sons Carmen and Luis Riu took over as managing directors of the chain.In the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, RIU expanded its operations in countries such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Aruba, the Bahamas, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Marroco and Tunis.

Carmen and Luis Riu Forman are the third generation to manage the chain

Carmen and Luis Riu are the third generation to manage the chain.

In addition to this massive international expansion, it is also important to note that after 56 years of specialising in vacation hotels, in 2010, RIU launched the urban brand Riu Plaza, offering a very different type of hotel in the centre of major cities. In September, it opened Riu Plaza Panama in Panama City, the first hotel of the Plaza brand.Currently, the chain has seven hotels of this range worldwide: Riu Plaza Guadalajara in Mexico, Riu Plaza Miami Beach and Riu Plaza New York Times Square in the United States, Riu Plaza Berlin in Germany and Riu Plaza The Gresham Dublin, in Ireland, in addition to the recently inaugurated Riu Plaza España.Also, three new ones are currently being built: in London and Toronto and a second one in New York.

Hotel Riu Plaza Panama was the first Riu Plaza category hotel

Hotel Riu Plaza Panama was the first Riu Plaza category hotel.

RIU Hotels & Resorts continues growing with the passage of time, consolidating internationally. Today it has nearly 100 hotels in 20 countries. But most importantly, it has kept its customer service standards intact.Guest services and hospitality remain the chain’s signature qualities. The next generations will continue upholding these values. This is clear in the fourth generation of Rius, which is now devoted to the family business.

In conclusion, we must also note that all of this would not have been possible without the guests who come to visit us year after year, the ones who come back and consider us their home. Because we are a family chain by origin and in every sense of the word.


  • Hugh Atherton

    You are absolutely right. It is your customer service coupled with your beautiful hotels that make my wife and I return to to Riu hotels year after year. We will be back at the Riu Playacar on 27 September 2019 having already staying at the Riu Tequila, the Riu Yukatan and the Riu Palace Riviera Maya, in fact this will be our 25th stay at a Riu hotel in Playacar Mexico, not to mention all our stays at other Riu hotels around the world. The reason we keep returning to Riu is simple, we feel like we are coming home. The consistently excellent customer service is evident throughout the Riu chain and we are so excited to be returning soon to our personal favourite, the Riu Playacar Mexico.
    Kindest regards,
    Mr Hugh Atherton.

    • Riu Hotels

      Hi Hugh!

      Thank you for your loyalty to RIU Hotels & Resorts and for sharing your experience with us. It will be a pleasure to have you here!

      Kind Regards
      RIU Hotels & Resorts

    • Claire

      Hugh, I’m completely with you on this! I discovered the Riu hotels in Playacar Mexico and now I’m a bit of a brat and I won’t go anywhere else or stay in any other hotels in the area! It’s such luxury for me and I always feel so spoiled when I go there. I’m off to the Yucatan on 24th September so will be ther at the same time as you (I’ve got a few years yet to catch up with your record though! 6 years of holidays for me…I’m planning more though)

      Enjoy your holiday!

  • Gary Charlton

    Have only been visiting Rui last 2 years in Spain Torramelinos such a lovely hotel and staff are tremendous always striving to make your holiday outstanding thanks Rui see you soon 🙂

    • Riu Hotels

      Hi Gary!

      Many thanks for your wonderful remarks and we hope to see you very soon in RIU.

      Kind Regards
      RIU Hotels & Resorts

  • Claire

    This is so interesting!! I LOVE your Riu hotels in Playacar Mexico, having stayed in the Playacar, Tequila and Yucatan 5 times and my 6th visit is happening on 24th September this year to the Yucatan again (my favourite!) I won’t stay at any other hotels, your service is always exceptional and I feel so safe there (I’ve visited 3 times by myself and never feel alone, the staff and animation teams are so welcoming and really look after me). I’ve made life-long friends with the animation teams and am still in touch with most of them from my first trip 6 years ago. It wouldn’t have been the same had it not been for your amazing hotels and staff. The food is incredible too, I still have dreams about it. 6 weeks and counting until I’m at my second home again 🙂

    • Riu Hotels

      Hi Claire!

      Many thanks for your nice words and for your wonderful remarks about our hotel chain. It will be a pleasure to have you here!

      Kind Regards
      RIU Hotels & Resorts

  • Marc Crokaerts

    Everything in the artical is completely true. The cliënt orientated service, the beautiful decorated hotels makes my wife and i come back to Riu year after year.
    The past 35 years we have stayed in so many Riu hotels all over the world :
    Riu Palace hotels and others in Jamaica, Dominican Republik,Costa Rica, Mexico, Marokko, Tunesia, Cabo Verde, Canary Islands, Portugal, South of Spain, etc…
    Everytime we come home, we say to each other : next vacation will be in a Riu hotel again.
    So our next stay will be in the newly renovated Riu Garoe in Puerto de la Cruz.
    We both are looking forward to it…
    Thank you Riu for all those beautiful years.

    • Riu Hotels

      Many thanks for your comment Marc!

      We are so delighted reading your comment! See you soon!

      Kind Regards
      RIU Hotels & Resorts

  • Crokaerts

    For many years my wife and I are loyal Riu clients because of the excellent service, customer orientated, and the beautifuly decorated hotels, that makes us decide to come back to Riu each time.
    We have been to Riu hotels all over the world (Europe, Africa, Caribian) and have never been disapointed.
    It is always nice to come “home” again.
    So our next visit will be at te Riu Garoe in Puerto de la Cruz.
    Thank you Riu for all those wonderfull vacations.

    • Riu Hotels

      We are really happy reading your comment! We hope to see you soon in our hotels!

      Kind Regards
      RIU Hotels & Resorts


    We have been staying in RIU resorts in and around Cancun for the last twelve years.I am impressed with the service we receive Everytime.Our favorite is RIU Palace Las America’s.We are going back again for our fifth year in a row in January.Everyone there makes us feel so welcome

  • Cassandra Collins

    We are absolutely amazed by the excellent customer service. We stayed for the first time in the riu palace in Montego Bay Jamaica and we decided after that we will never stay in any other chain so we booked and stayed at Costa Rica. The food is amazing and we are so impressed with the details of everything here as we were in Jamaica. We will always stay at Riu as long as it stays the way it is now.

    • Riu Hotels

      Hi Cassandra!

      Thank you for your loyalty to RIU Hotels & Resorts and for taking the time to write a comment!It will be a pleasure to have you here!

  • Tracy L Minor

    I love the RIU in Paradise Island Bahamas. I have stayed there twice and will be returning this summer. The hotel is so clean, the staff is friendly and the food was great! Thanks for making my stays enjoyable!

  • Jack milam

    We have been 11 times to playa del carmen and Rivera maya area over last 7 years stayed in 5 different hotels until we found riu palace Mexico. Its has become our home when we vacation there now. Outstanding staff great facilities perfect location. Heading back again September 2nd .we cant wait to see our friends we have met there.

  • Barry Tetlow

    Myself and my wife have visited riu hotels on over 50 occasions, do we need to say anymore. We have visited the Rui vistamar gran canaria 45 times,we feel it is our second home. Regards Elaine Tetlow.

    • Riu Hotels

      Hi Barry!

      Thank you very much for writing these beautiful words to us. We look forward to welcoming you back to RIU.

      See you soon!

  • Elaine Tetlow

    Always a fantastic holiday, visited more than 50 Riu hotels . RIU Cl

  • Dennis

    My wife and I have been Riu customers since 2006 we mostly were in Cancun hopefully will be at the Rui palace in Playa Del Carmen in June of 2021 if possible.

  • Mike

    Wonderful hotels! I stayed at RIU Jalisco and RIU Palace Mexico and both were wonderful and very very relaxing. Keep up the good work!!

  • Edel Mooney

    Cant wait to visit NYC and stay in your Times Sq Riu

  • David Aldaz

    We just came back home to Canada, we stayed at RIU Macao (Punta Cana) the staff are really great along with the food, the entertainment, pools and beach. The room was cleaned and organized daily and beautifully. We really loved it and will return.

    • Riu Hotels

      Hi David!

      Thank you very much for your lovely words about the staff hotel and for sharing your experience with us! Will be a pleasure to see you again.

      Kind regards,
      RIU Hotels & Resorts

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