Luis Riu: “I have very high expectations for the new Riu Plaza London Victoria”date_range 24 August, 2023 question_answer 1 Comment
The Riu Plaza London Victoria is now open, and I am really happy with the results. We’ve opened a great hotel that brings a completely new product to London, as well as an excellent service and advantages for customers such as its excellent location or the competitive rate, which also includes breakfast.
City openings are particularly costly, and this one was no exception. It takes a long time from when you purchase the building and define the project to when you finally open the hotel. It seems like a lifetime ago that we bought the building at the end of 2018 and we’ve had to wait five years to see our plans for this hotel become a reality. It has been a long process that got more intense and sped up in the last weeks. For this and many other reasons that I’m going to tell you about today, this opening has been really satisfying.
A 4-star hotel at a very competitive price in central London
It doesn’t matter what happens, what the weather is like or changes in travel trends, London consistently ranks as one of the world’s most visited cities. And not only is it the leader in terms of visitor numbers and overnight stays, but also in average rates.
I have very high expectations for this project. We have stayed faithful to our product line and service philosophy. That’s why we opened a 4-star, newly-built hotel with an attractive design and excellent service, where guest comfort is the top priority.
Another chain was studying the same building and had plans to build more than 700 rooms. We have made just 435. We want a trip to this city to be a good combination of experiences in the destination and the relaxation and comfort that one expects from a good hotel, all at a more than fair price.
Hotel and real estate investors always keep an eye on London. Good opportunities with large, versatile buildings in premium locations are very scarce and prices are sky high. If such an opportunity arises, you need to act at lightning speed as prices also fluctuate very quickly. When the opportunity to invest in the building at 1 Neathouse Place came up, we didn’t hang around. As proof of this strong demand, just one week after closing the deal, we received an offer to buy it back for 50 million euros more than what we had paid. But we are hoteliers, not speculators, and that offer only reinforced our belief that we had acquired an excellent asset.
Riu Plaza London Victoria: the tenth hotel in the Riu Plaza line
It is already the tenth RIU Plaza hotel. Over the past 13 years, we have consolidated our city product and now have RIU Plaza hotels in some of the world’s most important cities.
The RIU Plaza line has given the chain some of its best hotels, such as the Riu Plaza España, with its 360º Rooftop Bar, the most spectacular terrace with the best views in Madrid, or the Riu Plaza New York Times Square and its stunning vistas of the city’s skyscrapers.
These are just some emblematic examples, but our hotels in Dublin, Guadalajara, Berlin, Panama, San Francisco and Miami are also real gems. And the future Riu Plaza Chicago and Toronto, both currently under construction, will be the next establishments to result from this quiet but unstoppable process of city expansion.
70% hotel occupancy in only 4 weeks of operation
Our customers from the UK enjoy RIU’s beach product. Thanks to their preference for our hotels in Cape Verde, Jamaica and the Riviera Maya, they have become RIU’s second largest outbound market in terms of turnover and stays, only topped by the United States.
We hope that this brand awareness will give a boost to our hotel in London, just like Germany’s affection for the RIU brand did for our hotel in Berlin. In fact, to date, the vast majority of bookings at the Riu Plaza London Victoria have been made by customers from the UK, followed by the United States, Spain, Germany and Ireland. We’re really pleased with the evolution of bookings as we are already operating with an occupancy rate of 70% just four weeks after the opening.
Hotel offer aimed at holidaymakers in London
Time will tell because we have only just opened, but if this good trend continues, it will soon be on par with our high expectations. As for the type of customer, we think that the majority will be holidaymakers who come to the city to visit the sights. We believe that 15% to 20% will be people on business trips, but they won’t come to work in the hotel as we decided not to build a convention and meeting space this time.
Unique hotel in the Westminster district, 300 metres from Victoria Station
The building is unique. It was built in the 60s to house offices and was fully refurbished in the 90s. It was perfectly preserved and the finishes were of very high quality. This is great in a major refurbishment like the one we have carried out. It has 12 floors and is crossed by Neathouse Place, which links two important arteries of the city: Vauxhall Bridge Road and Wilton Road. Another characteristic feature is the “drum”, a circular glass structure that serves as the main entrance to the lobby.
Its location is unbeatable. Not only is it just 300 metres from Victoria Station, which has great transport connections to other locations in both the city and the country, as well as airport transfer services, but it is also in the Westminster district close to all the city’s most famous monuments such as Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.
Íñigo Berastain, leading the management team of the Riu Plaza London Victoria
The hotel team has a big challenge ahead. Running and operating the first hotel in a country is very difficult. That is why we have chosen someone from the chain, Íñigo Berastain, who was previously at the helm of our hotels in the Maldives, to be the hotel manager.
To manage the hotel’s different departments, we have a mix of professionals from RIU and new blood that has experience in this destination. Those who already have RIU experience come from the Maldives, Dubai or Ireland. People with experience in Asia or who come from an Asian background are an interesting option to build good teams in London, as many workers come from this continent.
The Riu Plaza London Victoria, the result of an ambitious and long-awaited project, was our grand opening for 2023. It fills us with pride to see the RIU brand in the heart of this great European capital, and it’s highly satisfying to know that we have the experience and the right team to take this challenge forward on a high note.
Fdo. Luis Riu