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When it comes to the meticulous details in launching a new resort, Luis Riu holds one of his late father’s philosophies especially close to his heart.
"He taught me that when we set an opening date, we open on that date or before, not even one day later," said Riu.
With 61 Riu grand openings under his belt since taking over CEO responsibilities with his sister a decade ago, this third-generation Riu continues to bat a thousand. No doubt his father would be proud.
The Riu Palace Pacifico
According to Riu, the chain opens in a particular region with its Classic- or Club- level properties, which are geared more toward families. If those properties prove successful and the area shows promise, the company will then introduce a more upscale Palace property. The process is swift — a brief three months from concept to design, with an additional year to construct.
The recent opening boosted Riu’s Riviera Nayarit room tally to 1,695. And while it seems that Riu’s formula for operating multiple properties within a single destination would potentially spread business thinner rather than increase it, Riu noted that it is generally the contrary.
"When we open a Palace, we focus on another segment of clients," he said. "It may even be someone willing to pay a bit more to try another type of Riu property."
He added, "Puerto Vallarta is a truly vibrant and wonderful city ideal for leisure vacations imbued with fun, festivity and excitement. The Riu Palace Pacifico provides a new level of sophistication and elegance to travelers selecting this dynamic destination."
Riu described the typical Palace guest as between 40 to 60 years of age.
"They prefer a little more quiet and privacy than at other hotels," he said.
In Riviera Nayarit, Riu’s properties tend to see 50 percent U.S. business and 30 percent from Canada, so your clients should have no problem finding someone to chat with at the swimming pool’s swim-up bar.
As part of the chain’s most luxurious line, Riu Palace properties are characterized by prime beachfront locations, palatial architecture, sophisticated decor and an extensive range of fine fare. With its 445 junior suites, Renova Spa with fitness center, pair of swimming pools, four specialty-themed restaurants and five bars — including a 24-hour sports bar with around-the-clock snacks — Riu Palace Pacifico is no exception.
Upon entering its grand lobby on opening day, my initial impression was that the Palace is befitting of its name. In-room amenities are upgraded from Classic or Club level Riu properties, from the line of toiletries in the marble bath with a hydro-massage tub to the brand of libations generously offered within theminibar.
Yet, my Palace suite decor was very similar to the Riu Vallarta suite I’d stayed in several days prior. Both were extremely spacious, open and comfortable. One of the differences I did notice, however, was that my sleeping and living areas were tiered with steps, offering a truer suite style.
Riu explained another enhancement is that Palace service is distinguished by a higher standard, highlighted by around-the-clock room service. Aside from that, however, the service differences seemed subtle, which speaks well of Riu. It was evident that both properties had groomed their friendly staff members to go out of their way to make sure guests’ needs were always addressed promptly and accurately.
As with all three Riu properties in Riviera Nayarit, the location is prime for those seeking Puerto Vallarta access but preferring to avoid the bustle. A pleasant 30- to 40-minute stroll up the beach led me to Bucerias, a colorful fishing village retaining its charm with cobblestone streets, seafood restaurants, beach clubs, a main square, market stalls and ample taxi service for shoppers loading up on souvenirs and local artwork. It’s also a convenient 10-minute ride to Vallarta Adventures Center, the springboard to some of the region’s most popular activities.
While all-inclusive resort dining gets a bad rap from time to time, I found Riu Palace Pacifico’s cuisine to be a cut above what I’d experienced elsewhere. I was extremely impressed with Kyoto, the resort’s Japanese specialty restaurant. I never imagined I’d enjoy such savory miso soup, yakitori chicken and sushi when dining in this region of the Pacific. I also heard glowing reviews from other guests who had dined at Krystal, Riu’s newest themed eatery that combines fusion and avant-garde cuisines.
In sizing up this impressive new Riu, I found it to reflect the quality associated with its famous moniker. And the Palace touches take it a step above, just as Luis Riu intended.
Riu Palace Pacifico888-666-8816www.riu.com Commission: 10 percent
Rates: All-inclusive per person, per night, rates are based on double occupancy and include local taxes. A single use supplement is $93 per night for all junior suites. Rates for respective rate periods — now through Dec. 23, Dec. 24-Jan.3, and Jan. 4-Apr. 3 — are as follows:
Junior Suite Garden View: $202 / $414 / $275
Junior Suite Partial Ocean View: $215 / $427 /$288
Junior Suite Ocean View: $235 / $447 / $308
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