Spanish hotel chain sashays into Asia

SPANISH hotel chain Riu Hotels & Resorts is diving into Asian waters with its first management agreement for a five-star hotel in Sri Lanka.

The tie-up with Aitken Spence Hotels will see Aitken Spence invest US$100 million in the 500-room, Riu-branded hotel, according to sources.

Construction on the first Riu hotel project in the Asia-Pacific region will begin in June 2014 and wrap up by winter 2015.

Aitken Spence’s managing director, Malin Hapugoda, told TTG Asia e-Daily that the project is coming up on an 11-hectare site at Ahungalla in southern Sri Lanka, where Aitken Spence had earlier planned to build a Six Senses hotel (TTG Asia e-Daily, January 15, 2013).

The project was eventually called off this year due to funding problems on the part of The Soneva Group (TTG Asia e-Daily, January 17, 2011).

Hapugoda, speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily in a telephone interview from London where he is attending the World Travel Mart, said Riu is also collaborating with Germany-based TUI Travel group to operate charter flights.

Flights will be serviced with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, carrying between 200 and 300 passengers at a time, and expected to land at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport at Mattala in Hambantota district, which opened earlier this year.

Founded in 1953 in Mallorca, Spain, the family-owned Riu Hotels & Resorts has over 100 hotels in 16 countries across North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. The company has since begun rolling out a new brand of city hotels called Riu Plaza in 2010.

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