Tue | Feb 27, 2024

Local market emerging as key for RIU

Published:Thursday | October 26, 2023 | 12:07 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Niurka Garcia Linton, director of sales, RIU Jamaica, addresses the media during a press briefing at RIU Montego Bay in St James on Friday.
Niurka Garcia Linton, director of sales, RIU Jamaica, addresses the media during a press briefing at RIU Montego Bay in St James on Friday.

WESTERN BUREAU:

THE JAMAICAN market has emerged as a key source for the RIU hotel chain here, accounting for the fourth-largest number of guests hosted last year at its six properties islandwide.

RIU Hotels & Resorts hosted nearly 400,000 guests at its Jamaican properties located in Ocho Rios, St Ann; Montego Bay, St James; and Negril, Westmoreland in 2022, company executives disclosed during a press briefing at RIU Montego Bay.

Fifty per cent were from the United States (US), followed by the United Kingdom, Canada and Jamaica.

“It’s great for us to say that the local market is increasingly becoming a very key market for the company,” said Sara Fernandez de Alarcon Muguruza, RIU’s area manager for the US, Canada and the English-speaking Caribbean.

“And it’s becoming a very relevant market, especially RIU Ocho Rios,” she added, making reference to the 900-room St Ann property.

The Spanish-owned resort did not disclose any figures for the number of Jamaicans it accommodated last year, but RIU’s Director of Sales, Niurka Garcia Linton, said the numbers are “really amazing”, regardless of the season.

“In every single month, we have a significant amount of local bookings. Summer, winter ... for the past couple of years, we cannot say there has been a soft season,” she said during a media briefing on Friday.

September and October, April and May were renowned as shoulder months for the island’s tourism sector. However, this has changed considerably in the last five years.

The Spanish hotel chain began operating in Jamaica in 2001 when it opened RIU Tropical Bay, located in Negril, and, in its 22nd year, is diversifying its offerings, particularly some aspects of their Palace brand, which is being upgraded to the Elite Club level.

Under the name Elite Club, the chain is offering a new way to enjoy exclusive benefits, which, together with their all-inclusive service, is expected to add to guests’ holiday.

The company is also getting ready to expand its footprint in Jamaica with the addition of the trend-setting Trelawny-based RIU Palace Aquarelle.

The new 753-room hotel, which will feature luxurious amenities such as second-floor level swim-up rooms, is 60 per cent completed and is on pace to open on May 4 next year.

This speaks “volumes” of the confidence the RIU family has in Jamaica as a destination, Garcia Linton said.

She said the hotel chain feels a “responsibility” to make its properties available to Jamaicans, who she described as “very loyal” to the RIU brand.

“We do feel a responsibility to make sure that we facilitate, we have availability, that we have rates that are sensible for the local market to stay with us,” Garcia Linton said.

RIU currently operates 6,700 rooms on the island and employs more than 3,300 staff.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com