Spain's RIU Hotels and Resorts looking to open in Vancouver: report

Mar 23 2019, 4:27 am

RIU Hotels & Resorts is reportedly looking at options to expand its presence to downtown Vancouver.

According to a report in the Globe & Mail, the Spanish luxury hotel chain is in discussions for potential locations in the city as part of its continued push into the Canadian market.

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In January, the company formally announced its plan to build a $100-million, 350-room hotel property in downtown Toronto’s financial district — its first Canadian hotel property — under its RIU Plaza urban hotel brand and concept.

The Toronto project is a mixed-use redevelopment involving two towers, with the hotel occupying the first 27 floors of a 48-storey tower and the secondary tower being entirely residential.

A rendering of the new RIU Plaza downtown Toronto hotel. (RIU Hotels & Resorts)

RIU has approximately 100 hotel properties around the world, including the growing number of Plaza hotels, with the first Plaza hotel opened in Panama in 2010. Since then, RIU Plaza has expanded its reach to Guadalajara, Miami, New York City, Berlin, and Dublin. It has three other Plaza properties under construction in Madrid, London, and a second hotel in New York City.

With a relatively low hotel room vacancy rate in Vancouver, particularly in the city centre area, there is a growing demand for more accommodation options in the city.

A report by the municipal government last year indicated that Vancouver saw a net loss of 1,105 rooms between 2008 and 2018, with the gains in the years leading to the 2010 Winter Olympics eliminated. This amounts to 13,925 rooms in the city, down from 15,030 in 2008.

Over the past decade, the gains from the construction of 1,457 new hotel rooms were erased by 2,562 hotel room conversions and demolitions into residential uses. This includes the closure of lower-end properties such as the Pacific Palisades Hotel (233 rooms), Coast Plaza Hotel (199 rooms), Empire Landmark Hotel (357 rooms), and Quality Inn Downtown (157 rooms).

Short-term rentals through online platforms such as Airbnb filled in much of the hotel supply gap earlier in the decade, but recent new government regulations protecting housing affordability have curbed the number of available short-term rental units by about half.

This will be further compounded in 2020 by the closure of the 372-room Four Seasons Hotel, and it is unknown at this time what will replace the ageing hotel tower.

But amidst all of the hotel room losses, there have been some gains, such as the opening of the new 202-room The Exchange Hotel, which will be adjoined by another Executive Hotels & Resorts property with 106 rooms on an adjacent site in a few years.

118-150 Robson Street, Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 118-150 Robson Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / Amacon)

YWCA Hotel is also undergoing a modest 65-room, 11-storey expansion, and the former Northern Electric Company Building site at the corner of Robson Street and Beatty Street received its approval last year for a redevelopment entailing 120 hotel rooms and 125 market residential units.

Over the longer term, the Westin Bayshore Hotel could be redeveloped as well. Concord Pacific is envisioning a mixed-use development with a massive redevelopment with a new hotel, market residential units, and a new home for the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

878-898 West Broadway Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the hotel redevelopment at 878-898 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture)

Beyond the city centre, there are several other hotels proposed or planned elsewhere in the city and wider region, including a new 438-room hotel on West Broadway near Vancouver General Hospital, a 112-room Hilton Hampton hotel in Surrey, and a 120-room hotel next to New Westminster Station.

Of the 23,000 hotel rooms that currently exist in Metro Vancouver, 57% are located within Vancouver.

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