The three incarnations of the Riu Playa Park, through the eyes of Luis Riu Güelldate_range 11 March, 2019 question_answer 16 Comments
Hello everybody. The opening date of our Hotel Riu Playa Park on the Playa de Palma is fast approaching . It is just one of the seven hotels we plan to open in 2019 and it will open just before Easter after completing its refurbishment.
When we came to assess the renovation project of this 3-star property, with a history going back nearly five decades, we decided to demolish it and build anew to be able to design a modern 4-star hotel able to cater for the high-end family customers who we want to attract to this destination. And looking back, remembering when I started out in Arenal, I have come to the conclusion that this reopening represents the beginning of a third stage in the life of this historic hotel, one which we trust will be its best to date.
Would you like to know what the first two phases were like? Come with me on this short recollection-tribute to a hotel that was acquired by my family, the Riu family, in the 1980s.
Phase 1: Luis Riu recalls anecdotes about the first Hotel Arenal Park
The Hotel Arenal Park, as it was called before becoming part of RIU, rose to fame in the 60s and 70s by welcoming customers who proved to be the leading party animals of the area. In those days, under the management of Thomson, virtually all of the clientele came from the United Kingdom, seduced by the promise of sun, sand, youth and wild partying. Something that, over the course of the years, gained them a somewhat dubious reputation.
One of my first work experiences with RIU was in 1977 as a night duty receptionist at the Hotel Riu Bali, which was just opposite the Hotel Arenal Park. From there I witnessed the innumerable occasions on which the police were called in to rein in the enthusiasm of guests in full party mode.
I will never forget one night when the Riu Bali security guard and I, the only living souls in the hotel, were left open-mouthed by one example of the loutish behaviour of our neighbouring guests. Euphoric after a drinking session, and riding three yellow mopeds -anyone familiar with the area back then will recall that there were hundreds of them included with rental accommodation- they drove into the lobby of the Riu Bali at full speed, all laughing and shouting. They got as far as the lifts, span round and shot off back into the street.
Phase 2: Riu Playa Park, a paradise for young tourists and groups
That kind of thing happened every summer until, in 1982, a new era started in the life of the hotel which, after its purchase by RIU, was now called the Hotel Riu Playa Park. When we took that decision I thought that the major challenge was going to be taming and straightening out its Wild West image; and so we started by changing the name as a first step towards changing its very nature.
The hotel remained as a 3-star with the appropriate service and facilities, and continued to be a favourite of young people coming for beach and party holidays, although they now came mainly from Germany and the Benelux countries.
It stopped being a hotel famous for drunken brawls and we no longer saw so much of the police, but to be truthful and realistic, for several years it was still very much a battlefield hotel. While hotels like the Riu Festival, Riu Concordia and Riu San Francisco had a more mature clientele whose main priority was peace and quiet, at the Riu Playa Park the average age was always lower and the atmosphere was a lot younger and more dynamic. Student groups on study trips, clubs of boules and card players, etc. We welcomed many groups of friends whose main objective was to have a good time.
Phase 3: Luis Riu presents the brand new 4-star Riu Playa Park
We continued like this until 2016, the year when the first lines of the story were written about the new Riu Playa Park. We decided to demolish it and to build a 4-star hotel with which we could attract a family-based clientele looking for a good hotel in an attractive location near the beach and with a full range of services close at hand.
The passing of the years serves to gain experience and, in the best of cases, to learn from the past and construct a better future. The Riu Playa Park has now moved on from its youth-focussed period and is now starting out on this new phase, its third incarnation, better-looking and wiser than ever; and ready to welcome its new guests. I hope you will join us in discovering the modern concept behind this hotel.
Fdo. Luis Riu