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Tuesday,  April 23, 2024 5:11 AM 

“They’re always upping the ante”: Sunwing & RIU host agents, share updates at VIP event

“They’re always upping the ante”: Sunwing & RIU host agents, share updates at VIP event
The team at Sunwing and RIU Hotels & Resorts welcomed trade partners for a festive lunch on Tuesday (Dec. 6). (Pax Global Media)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

“Anytime there's a new RIU that opens, we fill it like that,” said Eric Rodriguez, executive vice-president of partnership development at Sunwing Travel Group. “They deliver what they promise and they’re consistent.”

Sunwing and RIU Hotels & Resorts teamed up to host their annual festive VIP lunch event for partners, travel advisors and trade media at The Arlington Estate in Vaughan, ON on Tuesday (Dec. 6). 

“We're very happy and privileged to work with a hotel chain like RIU,” Mr. Rodriguez said, addressing the event’s attendees. “They're always upping the ante…they're the one hotel chain that's always looking to reinvent themselves. Not within different brands, but within grown brands.”

From left: Eric Rodriguez, EVP, partnership development, Sunwing Travel Group; Pauline Blacoe, Shine Travel; Vikas Malhotra, itravel2000. (Pax Global Media)

A big year 

It’s been a big year for the Spanish hotel chain as it opens new beach properties worldwide while furthering its expansion into urban areas.

At the beginning of year, the company opened the Riu Plaza Manhattan Times Square, its second establishment in New York City, with 656 rooms and a theatre-inspired lobby.

By April, RIU debuted in Africa with the opening of a new five-star hotel — the Riu Baobab — in Senegal.

READ MORE: RIU opens third hotel in Costa Mujeres – Riu Latino

In partnership with Sunwing, the brand, in spring, announced the adults-only Riu Latino in Costa Mujeres, Mexico, which is about 30 minutes north of Cancun's hotel zone.

(Riu Latino).

The modern, all-inclusive property with 594 rooms, which opened in October, has five outdoor pools and offers several water sport activities, including kayaking, snorkelling and catamaran rides in the sea, in addition to unlimited access to the on-site Splash Water World water park.

With the opening of the new hotel, RIU is complementing its hotels in Costa Mujeres, joining Riu Palace Costa Mujeres and Riu Dunamar, both three kilometres away.  

The year 2022, in fact, marked RIU’s 25th anniversary of operating hotels in Mexico.

The brand, just recently, opened its 22nd hotel in the region, the adults-only Riu Palace Kukulkan, a 428-room property in Cancun (although this property is not for sale in Canada just yet).

RIU is also set to open its first hotel in the United Kingdom, the Riu Plaza London Victoria, in spring of 2023.

Riu Parties return

Clients looking to let loose will be happy to hear that Riu Parties are back in full swing after almost two years following the pandemic.

The lively events come with new and fresh set designs, costumes and dance routines.

There are four party themes – white, jungle, neon and pink – which take place on different days of the week, depending on the hotel.

Riu Party makes its debut at Riu Montego Bay in Jamaica. (RIU)

Hotel Riu Santa Fe in Los Cabos and Resort Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic offer all four themes. 

(For a complete list of what parties are active, and where, click here).

Riu Montego Bay, in August, announced that Riu Party events were now part of its entertainment schedule.

The first party took place on July 15 in its theatre square and brought together almost 2,500 people, who enjoyed a set of neon-fluorescent lights, upbeat music, dancers, performances, and special effects.

The programming comes in the form of adults-only pool parties, as well as intergenerational “Get Together” events.

From left: Dave Wright, director of sales, Ontario & Atlantic Canada, Sunwing Vacations; Valerie Ward, BDM, Riu Resorts. (Pax Global Media)

Water parks & social packages

RIU is also pushing Splash Water World, an “aquatic entertainment funplex” in select hotels in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Jamaica and Costa Rica.

The park in Punta Cana, for example, has attractions like “the Body Vortex,” a closed body slide that shoots guests towards the pool, “the Kamikaze,” which drops from heights of several metres, and a free-fall slide that promises the sensation of flying directly into the pool.

During the pandemic, RIU revamped its wedding collections to make them more inclusive and easier to understand.  

And the brand has a new way to upgrade special occasions with “social packages” that include perks for different types of occasions, from birthdays to “Bach parties” to romantic getaways.

Sunwing, lately, has been restoring seasonal service to smaller communities, with London, ON, being the latest city, with flights to Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. 

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