Wednesday, November 25, 2009

RIU Opens: the most talked about resort in Costa Rica




I wonder if singer songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk’s upcoming vow renewal at the swanky Riu Guanacaste Hotel in Costa Rica will go off with as big of a bang as dare I say a recent visit I made to this sun-kissed beach property?

But then again, I was on hand to celebrate “the” most talked about resort opening this Central American country has witnessed in a while.

Heralded as the hottest brother sister hotelier team, Carmen and Luis Riu did not disappoint and scrimp they did not. In between the usual speeches and ribbon cutting ceremony, the five-star property’s Matapalo Beach was the backdrop to a colorful fireworks show that set the night ablaze in bouquets of diamond glitter.

Surrounded by a sea of Costa Rican big wigs, the Riu’s even had the Costa Rican president on hand to bring in their celebrations. The President of the Republic of Costa Rica Oscar Arias Sanchez is no shrinking violet either. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient, he brokered peace in the 80s to this once civil war strife region of Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

But on this full-moon evening with 400 champagne-toting guests, Mr. Sanchez regaled on how wonderful this new venture will be for the economy and for the growing importance of the tourism industry there.

Wayne Noseworthy, product development director for Sunquest Vacations, was ecstatic about the night’s full pageantry but was even more elated that RIU has added this property to its collection of over 100 hotels and resorts in over 16 countries. “Sunquest is the exclusive partner with RIU and we are thrilled about this expansion.”

The Rius aware of the location’s isolated wilderness have thankfully bowed to sustainable practices and have made an innovative water filtration plant on-site which minimizes waste and maximizes reuse. Ever wonder where your shower water goes? At this 701-roomed all-inclusive resort, soapy waters from showers and washbasins are filtered, bleached and treated with ultraviolet light. After that, the water is reused for toilet tanks. Eco-loving clients will surely give high marks for that.

So why did RIU Hotels & Resorts open in Costa Rica? “Costa Rica is a destination that greatly complements our portfolio with its stunning scenery and beautiful beaches. The nature surrounds the whole travel experience and it really impressed me when I first visited years ago,” begins Luis Riu, CEO of RIU Hotels & Resorts who added the country is popular among Canadians with the main tour operators in America already working with the country.

Still in these economic times is it a good idea to open a new property? Luis admits the economic situation has affected the completion date on the RIU Palace Guanacaste which is currently slated for next spring.

“Of course the economic scenario was not the best one possible, but we believe in this destination and we want to respect the commitment we acquired with the local community and our partners,” he says and adds, “The opening of a new hotel is a long-term project and we can’t be stopped by temporary difficulties. RIU constructs and owns all of its hotels in America and Riu Guanacaste is no exception.”

Last month, the Costa Rican national newspaper ‘La Rep├║blica’ reported that the Guanacaste Tourism Board Director Mauricio C├ęspedes noted how the Riu Guanacaste is the only project in the region that actually opened on time this year.

Inspired by Spanish colonial influences, sky high ceilings mesh with walls decorated in the latest art collections by Spanish modern artist Martin Fernandez. Your clients have ample diversions to help them wile away the hours. By day, it’s a ginormous pool with a built-in jacuzzi, spa and fitness facilities and by night the casino and night shows are popular choices.

Located on the Pacific Coast local tour operators such as Swiss Travel and Guanacaste Tours can arrange for fun off-site activities. One day I managed to act like a monkey and hung out in a cloud forest, zip-lining across the tree-tops surrounded by howling monkeys.

If zip-lining in this jungle paradise is not your speed be a local cowboy, known as 'sabaneros,' and try horseback riding from a traditional hacienda into the wilds of Rio Negro Hot Springs. Your journey includes a refreshing dip in this mountain river. Another day we drove into the wild wet lands of El Viejo on the doorstep of the Palo Verde National Park for an out-of-this world river cruise along the Tempisque River. In between the egrets and kingfishers, we got a jolt as a pair of crocodiles decided to head toward the boat. Then white-faced monkeys scampered in the thick brush eyeing us as we eyed them. It was all good fun.

Now when Chantal arrives for her big day (it’s November 27th) undoubtedly she will have fond memories too. Right now her Facebook and Twitter accounts are describing her heavy duty work-outs in preparation for her bikini. She’ll need some mosquito repellant too. Happy 10th Chantal!

ET Canada will broadcast the wedding vow renewal between the Canadian songbird and Our Lady Peace front man Raine Maida on Monday, December 7 - 7 p.m. EST or 7:30 p.m. PST on Global.


To Know:
Riu Hotels and Resorts
For bookings contact Sunquest Vacations

El Viejo Wetlands

Swiss Travel Costa Rica

photo credit: Stephen Smith/mycompass.ca