The 901-room RIU Ocho Rios in St. Ann reopened its doors to guests on Monday (June 15) as the Government resumed phased operations in the tourism sector.
The resumption followed a three-month shutdown of the sector due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Like other hotels across Jamaica, RIU was hit hard by the virus, which brought all tourism-related activities in the country to a screeching halt.
Just months before the shutdown, an $11 billion (US$85 million) renovation exercise was completed at the property, including the building of a state-of-the art water park, positioning RIU Ocho Rios as among the country’s top resorts for families.
RIU’s Communications Manager for Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America, Marc Miralles Pons, told JIS News that the Ocho Rios property is the second to reopen, following RIU Cancun in June.
“It joins a long list of openings around the world that the chain has already announced for coming weeks. We have done so while offering our customers and staff maximum safety and hygiene assurances,” he noted.
Mr. Miralles Pons said the hotel chain spent weeks preparing a post-COVID manual for RIU Ocho Rios with 17 protocols, covering everything from safety and hygiene for guests to the delivery of goods by suppliers, and includes thorough and methodical disinfection of the rooms and common areas.
He said that application of these protocols required training of staff, who will be returning to work gradually.
“RIU maintains its firm commitment to Jamaica’s tourism…and hopes to be able to continue reopening its properties in Jamaica gradually,” Mr. Miralles Pons said.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett welcomed the opening of RIU Ocho Rios.
“We cannot lose sight of what RIU has been doing. Not only does Jamaica have the most RIU hotels in the English-speaking Caribbean, but also having close to 2,800 workers in all the hotels combined, prior to COVID-19, is saying quite a lot,” he noted.
RIU opened its first hotel in Jamaica in 2001 and now has six resorts with a total of 3,000 rooms. Two are located in Negril, three in Montego Bay and one in Ocho Rios.
The hotel chain plans to renovate its RIU Montego Bay property this year, which will make all of its hotels in the country fully refurbished or of recent construction.