June 20, 2004 – V.I. hotelier Richard Doumeng was installed as fourth vice president of the Caribbean Hotel Association and the V.I. competitive culinary team received a silver medal at the CHA's 2004 Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference, held in Fajardo, P.R., last week.
Doumeng, general manager of Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Resort on St. Thomas, has been active in the CHA for years, as was his father, Dick Doumeng, before him.
The annual CHIC gathering was held at the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort. About a thousand members of the Caribbean hospitality industry took part.
Berthia M. Parle, general manager of the Bay Gardens Hotel and Bay Gardens Inn in St. Lucia, is the new president of the CHA, the first woman to hold the post. The other officers are Peter Odle, Mango Bay Resorts, Barbados, first vice president; Allen Chastanet, Coco Kréole, St. Lucia second vice president; Jeremy MacVean, Comfort Suites Paradise Island, Bahamas, third vice president; Peter Webster, Hilton Curaçao, Curaçao, fifth vice president; and Jag Mehta, SuperClubs, Jamaica, treasurer.
The V.I. culinary team vied with 10 others in the annual Taste of the Caribbean competition. There were numerous individual dish judgings and the grand finale where each team had four hours in which to prepare a three-course meal for 25 persons, creating menus on the spot using only the ingredients they found in the "mystery baskets" they were provided at the start of the event.
The territory's team comprised three St. John chefs — Ramon Henry, executive chef at Caneel Bay Resort, Brian Kay, executive chef at the Westin Resort, and Denise Marcellus, Caneel Bay pastry chef — and one from St. Thomas, Robert Plouffe, executive chef of Oceana Restaurant. Plouffe also was on last year's team, which received a bronze medal.
Receiving gold medals were the Bahamas, Barbados, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago. Silver medals went to Aruba, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, in addition to the territory. Taking bronze medals were Anguilla and Belize.
Parle said she intends to focus the CHA on key interventions needed for sustainability and managed growth of the region's tourism industry. "Our industry is the platform for our regional economy, at present and into the foreseeable future," she said, pledging to "concentrate on establishing creative and lasting partnerships with the several regional and international bodies based in the Caribbean, in particular."
Priorities, she said, include developing stronger relationships with the cruise industry and working in partnership with the public sector entities responsible for managing the tourism industry and the Caribbean state economies. She called for Caribbean Community heads of government and their top tourism officials to meet with hospitality industry representatives at least once a year to address concerns and needs.
Parle received the CHA's Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award in 2003 and was named "One of the Most Powerful Women in Travel" by Travel Agent Magazine.
For more information about the CHIC proceedings, visit the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference Web site.
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