Luis Riu: What it’s like spending half the year on the road

date_range 27 November, 2019 label question_answer 8 Comments

By the end of 2019 I will have spent almost 50% of my time travelling. 171 days on the road, or, in my case, on a plane. There are a number of reasons for this: construction works, renovations and new projects. Although the destinations are always very different.

If I take a step back from it all, it is a bit shocking to see how often I’m away from home. While I go about my daily work I am so busy that I don’t think about it all that much. Having said that, when I’m travelling, my goal is to get on with the job and return home as quickly as possible.

Luis Riu, CEO of RIU Hotels & Resorts, with his wife Isabel

Luis Riu, CEO of RIU Hotels & Resorts, with his wife Isabel.

“I’m incredibly lucky to have my wife by my side”

It is therefore only fitting that I begin this post by thanking my family for their understanding. They are clearly not too pleased that I am away from home so much, and when I do finally get back I am worn out and basically preparing for the next business trip.

The person who suffers the most is my wife Isabel. I am so lucky to have her by my side. She looks after our family and me so well, and on top of it she has to put up with me being away so often on business trips. None of this would have been possible without her and she deserves my full recognition for this. In terms of taking trips together, I have mentioned before that we went to the Maldives for what was practically a working holiday. We often can’t make plans like the rest of our friends and family during the year, but the truth is that we can’t even plan for trips in the holiday season. When the time comes to take a break, I always opt for somewhere peaceful and close by. We don’t go for big cities, with lots of tours and trips. When it is time for a short break, what most appeals to me is a bit of beach and a lot of peace.

A quiet beach is the perfect location to take a break, according to Luis Riu

“A bit of beach and a lot of peace,” Luis Riu’s perfect combination for his holidays.

“I like flying with commercial airlines and I always travel without my phone,” says Luis Riu

I am often asked why the chain hasn’t bought a private plane given the hectic pace of our work. But I am sticking to my decision to travel in commercial flights, at least while my health and strength allow me to do so.

Of course, one might well think that using a private jet is extremely advantageous, but I’m not so sure. My destinations are usually well connected and if everything goes to plan, I like the privacy of being completely anonymous on a large plane. On the journey to my destination, I enjoy the business trips because I take my time. I get excited preparing and concentrating on the latest project that will take the chain further. And on my return, it is an enjoyable time where I like to relax, rest and think about the moment I will get home. What’s more, if we take into account the issue of pollution it is much more responsible to stick with my decision.

Luis Riu prefers commercial flights and dismisses the idea of buying a private jet

Luis Riu prefers commercial flights and dismisses the idea of buying a private jet.

“If we take into account the issue of pollution it is much more responsible to stick with commercial flights rather than a private plane,” commented Luis Riu

Travelling is when I most appreciate not having a mobile phone. The business trips I take are short, with the idea of returning home on Sunday. If I took my mobile phone with me I would be constantly receiving messages, calls and emails. It would not be possible for me to concentrate the way I do.

When I visit the building site, I dedicate 100% of my attention to the project. When night falls, it is time to check my emails and deal with various issues, but not during the day. If someone needs to get in touch with me for an emergency, I am always accompanied by another person.

Calendar Luis Riu used to organise his work trips during 2019

Luis Riu’s work trip planning sheet for the entire year 2019.

Without my mobile phone, precisely how do I do the things that everyone else has got so used to doing with their mobiles? Well, in the same way we’ve been doing things our whole lives.

For example, the first thing I put in my suitcase is an alarm clock. Instead of using maps I trust the taxi driver, the chauffeur or my employees at the hotels I am visiting. And in order to organize my schedule I have spent so many years making an annual plan for my business trips on paper that I don’t see myself changing that now. In order to watch the news or for entertainment purposes, or simply for getting things done when the time comes, I have my tablet computer – I’m not completely isolated from technology.

Luis Riu always puts an alarm clock in his suitcase

Luis Riu always puts an alarm clock in his suitcase.

Anecdotes, likes and preferences during business trips

Constantly travelling does not help me get used to jet lag at all and there is no magic formula for alleviating it. The only thing I do is sleep as much as I possibly can once I get back home. When I travel to America, the jet lag is easier to deal with than when I travel east. Furthermore, I also like to travel over the Atlantic because I usually fly at night and this allows me to get up to date with work while the headquarters in Palma is sleeping, and then I can get right into the thick of things as soon as I arrive. For example, my two latest business trips were to Playa del Carmen and Nayarit in Mexico to oversee the refurbishment of the RIU Palace Riviera Maya and the completion of the renovation works of the RIU Vallarta.

I am also not someone with any odd habits or special requests. However, it is inevitable that the hotels always try to provide me with an excellent service. At this juncture, I would like to tell you a quick story. Let’s see if the directors of the chain read this and take note. The chambermaids always make sure I get brand new towels but I like the older towels because I can dry off much better with them!

“An anecdote: I like the older towels because I can dry off much better with them,” jokes Luis Riu

I never request the best room in the hotel because this is reserved for our guests. What I do ask for is a room near the hotel lobby, so I don’t waste any time getting to my room. And I also don’t have any favourite hotels. At least not when it comes to travelling for work, but it’s a different matter when it comes to my holidays. Something which will surprise a lot of people is that when I travel to Playa del Carmen I like to stay at the Riu Lupita. It is not our best hotel in the area but I have always felt really comfortable there.

RIU Hotel Lupita, Luis Riu’s favourite hotel when he stays at the Playa del Carmen

RIU Hotel Lupita, Luis Riu’s favourite hotel when he stays at the Playa del Carmen.

When will Luis Riu pass the baton?

And when do I plan to slow down? Well it’s complicated right now. The time will come when I will have to delegate things, but I like to ensure that all the projects are given equal importance and one of the ways of doing that is by personally overseeing what is happening. But the day will certainly come when I will need to delegate more and I have a team and plenty of professionals around me for that very day.

Fdo. Luis Riu


  • Carlo Elstak

    Nice article, I have always enjoyed my stay at Riu hotels, from my very first one (Riu Jalisco in PV) to the Palace in the same area. Great food, quality rooms and top-notch service. Looking forward to my next stay at the renovated Vallarta in February!!

  • Rita (Henriettte) Thompson

    What a refreshing and down to earth story. My husband and I just spent our 30th visit at the Riu Palace Mexico and had the pleasure of briefly meeting Luis Riu. He was very humble and polite and appreciates his guests and his staff.very much. The entertainment at the Neon Party that night was amazing and a huge surprise. These are all the reasons why we have already booked May 2020!! Thank you for always making us feel comfortable in our “home away from home”

  • Opalwilliams

    I am in love with ur story and the wonderful work u are doing lot respect to ur wife .

  • Joseph Martin

    Mr Riu.

    I would like to say a big thank you fir your leadership. I have been staying at the Riu Vallarta for many years. It is clear that your leadership is reflected in your staff. It starts at the top. “Attitude reflects leadership “. My mother and I have always been so warmly greeted. To have us greeted by name means alot to us. I would like to specify name a few of your outstanding employees. It starts at the top with Raul, Juan Carlos, Bellhops- Marco, David, Bruno, Buffett resturant- Norma & Rosie, Lobby Bar- Gorge, Tersita, Plaza Bar-Tony. What outstanding excellence in service. We were upgraded to the Riu Palace in Jan 2018 but like the atmosphere at the Vallarta. My only request please is that you make a section that is smoke free down on the plaza outdoors. We like being outside but cannot handle the smoke. The remodel is beautiful. Thank you!

  • Lynne

    Love your properties
    Usually immaculately kept
    Many locations
    Great Buffett variety
    Feel safe
    Good value
    Happy staff
    Usually great cappuccino
    Looking to many more vacations with Riu

  • Raffaela Demarchi

    Io e mio marito siamo clienti Riu da diversi anni, abbiamo soggiornato in diversi resorts (soprattutto dei Caraibi) e possiamo dire che siete i migliori sotto tutti i punti di vista! Abbiamo sempre fatto vacanze meravigliose con voi. Grazie!

  • Jay Moore

    Luis, Your vision for exclusive and elite hotels is obviously exceptional and it is evident that you are traveling consistently to visit your hotels, because the RIU experience is amazing. Thank you for maintaining exceptional hotels around the globe and maintaining exceptional staff at each location.
    Sincerely, Jay Moore

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