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Carmen Riu

SPAIN - Tourism

Carmen Riu

CEO, Riu Hotels & Resorts

Bio

Carmen Riu first joined the RIU company in 1977 as director of the Hotel Riu Bali in Playa de Palma. As part of the third generation of the Riu family, she assumed the position of CEO in 1998, in conjunction with her brother, Luis. Carmen directs, finance, administration, the legal department, IT systems, and corporate social responsibility. In 2005, she became a member of the Supervisory Board of TUI, a position now held by her son Joan Trian

Focusing on diversifying, betting on new destinations, and constantly updating the product have helped the RIU Hotels & Resorts business thrive even in tough times.

What does it mean for RIU Hotels & Resorts to be a company with origins in Mallorca and having been part of the creation of a successful tourism model?

I am proud to have been able to sustain the family business and make it thrive. At the same time, it is a huge responsibility. My father and grandfather were great entrepreneurs and visionaries who were able to see the great opportunity presented in the 1950s by the hotel industry in Mallorca. They defined our philosophy of service, to which we are still faithful today. From the beginning, they bet on reinvesting all the profits into the business. This has continuously marked our way of managing. Reinvesting means growing, diversifying, betting on new destinations, and constantly updating the product. My brother Luis and I have followed that philosophy well, and we have been able to adapt it to each moment. The holiday model of Mallorcan hotel companies is a world reference. We have managed to create a standard of service and a successful business admired by many other countries.

With a presence today in many countries, what milestones have RIU Hotels & Resorts achieved?

The key is in the reinvestment of profits. Even now, having had to close all hotels in 2020 due to the pandemic and having worked hard for recovery, we continue as before. We do it to stay strong and grow since we have the will to continue as a source of employment, stability, and opportunities for our workers. During the 1960s and 1970s, we grew significantly in the Balearic Islands. It was not until 1985 that we opened the first hotel outside the Balearic Islands, the Riu Palmeras, which was a key step prior to the international jump. There, we learned to operate a hotel allyear round. That prepared us for the international leap, which was made in 1991 with the opening of the first hotel in Punta Cana. This marked the first step in the great growth of RIU Hotels in America, where we currently have more than 40 hotels. The most recent projects we have launched were two urban hotels, a sector we first entered in 2010. These are the Hotel Riu Plaza Manhattan Times Square, which opened its doors February 11, and the Hotel Riu Plaza Chicago, which is slated to open in 2024. We have other exciting projects like the opening of the first hotel in Senegal in 2022, as well as continuing to grow in Mexico, our main international destination and our salvation during this crisis.

What is your assessment of the hotel sector’s role in implementing best sustainable practices and, more specifically, of RIU Hotels & Resorts?

Working to achieve sustainable management is no longer voluntary; it is an obligation for all. The first sustainability to look for is that of companies, which the pandemic has taught us. At RIU, we firmly believe sustainability involves the environment, the community, and our employees. For many years, hotel entrepreneurs have been implementing sustainability measures. We are already looking for efficiency in energy and water use and have invested in ergonomic changes for employees. We have started circular economy projects that depend, for example, on local agriculture, and we separate the hotel’s organic waste so that it returns to the earth as compost. It is not a question of getting attention for what has been done. Hoteliers have a driving role, but we are calling for a broader, truly ambitious look. For a real reconversion of the tourism sector to take place, many more agents must be involved.

What are your thoughts on the recovery of the tourism sector?

In 2022, we expect the level of activity to be good, barring any further surprises from COVID-19. However, profitability will not recover. Costs have increased significantly due to shortages of raw materials and energy costs, but quality cannot be touched. That means all extra costs will be charged on the profit margin.

 

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