As Bolongo Bay Beach Resort and the Doumeng family celebrate their 40th anniversary this year, we’ve decided to take a look back at the family’s history on St. Thomas, as well as Bolongo’s development over the last four decades! As the first blog entry in this series, we’re starting from the beginning…
It’s a question everyone living in the Virgin Islands receives, probably on a daily basis – “So what brought you down here?” While it may become a bit repetitive to those working in the service industry, the Virgin Islands does have a fairly eclectic population, and it’s a fair question!
Originally from Long Island, New York, the Doumengs had a long standing relationship with the sea. Whether it was fishing, clamming, or boating in the Great South Bay, or hopping over the sand dunes of Fire Island to reach the ocean; from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the family spent almost every single Friday on the water. So it was no surprise that in December of 1967, while vacationing in Puerto Rico, the Doumeng family took a day trip over to beautiful St. Thomas… and fell in love.
Back home on Long Island, Dick, 35, sold the house, the car, quit his job as a Hamilton watch salesman, packed up the family, and moved to the Virgin Islands by September of 1969. He had come up with the idea of selling vacation time on houseboats, and after putting the concept together with the help of a few partners, ‘Aquaminiums’ was born. They bought land on the South East end of St. Thomas and developed the Aquaminiums, as well as a marina that he named, “Compass Point Club”.
The houseboat business turned out to be a harder sell than he had anticipated, and eventually Dick turned to real estate. As the very first broker for ‘Watergate Villas’, Dick noticed a nearby listing- Bolongo Bay Hotel was for sale.
In 1974, Dick and his wife Joyce bought Bolongo Bay. Although he knew nothing about the hotel business when he started out, Dick took his idea of selling vacations and transferred it to a hotel concept. Dick and Joyce were able to transform the struggling, low-occupancy property into one of the most popular resorts in the Caribbean- the Bolongo that we all know and love today!