Hotel Online  Special Report

  Riu Hotels: From a Small Family Business 
to an International Company
Septembr 25, 2001 - Riu Hotels: from a small family business to an international company came into being in 1953 with a small hotel in Majorca, and now has 96 establishments with 12,000 employees and is present in 10 countries 
A total of 96 holiday hotels with categories ranging from three to five stars in Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, the United States, North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, offering globally 25,960 rooms and just over 50,000 beds,with 1.5 million customers and 12,000 employees, united by one motto: give the guest service with heart.

These figures sum up the RIU Group's ( current situation. This small family business was created in1953 in Playa de Palma (Majorca), with the purchase of the small 80-bed hotel San Francisco, and has now become the 31st biggest hotel chain in the world, specialising in sun and beach holidays, with guests mainly of central European origin but also an incipient American clientele (from the United States, Canada and Argentina) as well as Spanish guests. 

The chain had a turnover of 105,000 million Pesetas (567 million dollars) in the year 2000 and foresees 120,000 million (14.3% more) for the year 2001. This data consolidates RIU as the second largest chain in Spain in terms of turnover. 

RIU's establishments are located in the Balearic Islands (16), the Canary Islands (36), Portugal (2) 

Hotel Riu San Francisco
C/ Laud, 24
Playa de Palma
07610 Baleares España
Andalusia (7), Gerona (1), the Dominican Republic (7) Cuba (2), Florida (2), Mexico (4), Jamaica (1), Tunisia (11), Bulgaria (5),Cyprus (1) and Madeira (1).

RIU Hotels head office has been in the Riu Centre, in Playa de Palma, since 1982. 150 metres from the Riu Centre, on the beach front, is the Riu San Francisco, the chain's very first establishment, where the family business was started up in 1953 by Mr. Juan Riu and his son, Mr. Luis Riu Bertrán, both natives of the La Garrocha region of Gerona in Catalonia.

Luis Riu Bertrán was chief executive of the chain until his death, at the age of 65, on April 7th 1998.

Since then the company has been directed by the second generation, in the form of Mr. Riu Beltrán's two children: Carmen Riu Güell (a specialist in administration and finance) and Luis Riu Güell (in charge of expansion). Both born in Palma, they share the post of chief executive.

All the hotels in the chain are managed by Riusa-II, a company created in 1993 for the running of hotels, 50% of which belongs to the Riu family, with the other 50% being held by the German tour operator TUI, RIU's traditional partner and number one tour operator in Europe.

Riusa-II and some shareholder-type companies together make up the RIU Hotels & Resorts Group.

For its part, TUI (, a member of the HTU (Hapag Turistik Union) tourism consortium, renamed the TUI Group on January 1st 200, constitutes the tourism division of the industrial group PREUSSAG (, the 21st biggest company in Germany in 1999. PREUSSAG purchased TUI in 1998 as part of its strategy to transfer investments to the tourism sector.

As from August 23rd 2001 the tourism consortium adopted the new name of "World of TUI". (

Since its creation RIU Hotels has never shared out profits. They are reinvested in full in the creation of new hotels, the renovation of those already in existence or the purchase of other establishments.  Like the 11 Iberotel hotels acquired in 1993 and the 9 hotels bought from the British Belhaven chain. In this way the company has basically self-financed its growth and its current level of debt is low. 

After the creation of the family business in the 1950s, the company grew in the '60s due to the opening up of Spain to Europe and the consequent in rush of European holiday tourists to Spanish beaches.

After increasing its number of hotels in Majorca and consolidating itself as a company, in the '80s RIU expanded its activity in the Canary Islands, an archipelago which, added to the attraction of its beaches, is also a non-seasonal destination due to its mild climate, allowing hotels to remain open all year round.

Due to the importance of the turnover contributed to the chain by the Canaries (approximately half), RIU established part of its head offices in Playa del Inglés in Gran Canaria, amongst them the Human Resources Department and the Staff Training Centre, devoted to the retraining of the chain's professionals.

After its solid expansion in the Canary Islands (where it is now the leader in the supply of accommodation), Riu Hotels began its internationalisation in the '90s, with the inauguration of the hotel Riu Taíno in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic).

From this island, the beaches of which are amongst the most beautiful in the world, the chain has expanded to Cuba, Florida, Mexico, Jamaica and the Portuguese island of Madeira.

In November of 1997 RIU acquired the emblematic hotel Maspalomas Oasis in Gran Canaria, one of the best holiday establishments in Europe, and since then the chain's flagship in Spain. 

Hotel Riu Orlando
8688 Palm Parkway
Orlando Florida 
At the beginning of 1998 the chain opened a Contracting and Sales Office in Madrid with the aim of opening up to the Spanish outward bound market, and struck up agreements with Spain's most important wholesalers.

In mid-1999 RIU took over the management of twelve hotels in the Iberotel chain in Tunisia (8), Morocco (1 hotel, later dissociated from the chain), Bulgaria (2) and Cyprus (1). Thus the chain began its expansion in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the case of Morocco and Bulgaria this was RIU's debut of the franchise formula, with which the chain hopes to incorporate more new hotels over the coming years, preferably in Andalusia, the Algarve (Portugal) and the Canary Islands.

In October of 1999 31 RIU hotels ranked amongst the 100 best hotels in the world in the holiday sector, according to the votes of TUI customers, for which the TUI-Holly prizes are awarded. And furthermore four RIU hotels were amongst the top ten, with the Riu Palace Maspalomas in first place for the second time in just 10 years of its existence.

On November 15th 1999 the Riu Palace Mexico, a luxury five-star hotel, was opened.  This establishment is buried deep in the Mayan Riviera and is the chain's new flagship outside of Spain.

High quality of service and personalised treatment of guests constitute the cornerstone of RIU's philosophy, a philosophy which has allowed a modest family business with 80 beds to be turned into an international hotel chain with over 50,000 in four decades. A chain which is still expanding, exclusively in sun and beach holiday destinations, without abandoning the values on which its success is founded, and which foresees an increase in its accommodation capacity in the first years of the 21st century with new hotels in the Canary Islands, Andalusia, Tunisia, Bulgaria, the Caribbean, the United States and Africa.

RIU Hotels
Riu Centre, calle Llaüd s/n, 07610 
Playa de Palma, Majorca.
(34) 971- 74 30 30

Also See Riu Grand Palace Maspalomas Oasis Receiving Extensive Renovation from RIU / July 2001 

To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search

Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.