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What are ya gonna do? We hit the beach. We did the infinity pool with the swim-up bar. Spa? Check. More drinks? Thank you. Dinner? Every night, please. Go to town? Um, nope.
I'm sure that "downtown" Cancún has amplified its attractions since the last time I was there about two decades ago, but I'm not feeling the pull. The best things about Cancún are the beach and the commute to the beach. Oh, and there's also La Casa del Habano right there on the hotel strip, a short cab ride away.
Visiting La Casa del Habano (LCDH) in Cancún was a welcome break from the Le Blanc resort. We went twice out of the four days there. Here's day one.
David Tourgeman, the owner of this LCDH and two others in Mexico, opens the door for us as we enter around 4 p.m. Tourgeman invites us to the humidor and we consult with his cigar sommelier, a lovely Cuban woman who has resettled in Cancún. I tell her my preferences, but before we finish, Tourgeman intervenes and implores me to try the Edmundo Dantes Conde 54 Regional Edition, a sublime (6 1/2 inches with a 54 ring gauge) that is made exclusively for the Mexican market.
My friend is given a Romeo y Julieta petit corona. She is not really a cigar smoker, but begins to enjoy this little gem a little too much. Of course, it doesn't hurt that mojitos and daiquiris are flowing. I am still lighting my large cigar. The flavor is great, but the draw is a little too easy.
"When that happens," Tourgeman explains, "I pinch the cigar." He squeezes his forefinger and thumb together as a visual aid.
Fortunately, the cigar remains lit the entire time, long enough to down one of the best mojitos I've ever had. An abundance of lime is the key for me. The daiquiri is excellent as well. Both libations pair nicely with the Pacific coast oysters Tourgeman puts on the table in front of us. They're beauties, but I'm keeping the taste buds clear for tobacco. Then, ruining my plans, the charcuterie arrives. Nice Spanish sausage and cheese. I do notice the large espresso machine behind the bar. The coffee is Danesi, one of my favorites. I order a double espresso.
Tourgeman explains that they fly the oysters in when they're in season. He is the consummate host and has created an excellent spot in which to relax when you've tired of the sun. In the middle of LCDH sits a dominos table. There are three flat-screen TVs and they show all the games from the United States. Autographed footballs hang on the wall. Comfortable couches and chairs are everywhere. If you want lunch or dinner, the Peruvian restaurant upstairs will deliver. There's also a small bust of Che Guevara sitting on a front table.
Of course, the highlight is the humidor. This is "kid in the candy shop" kind of stuff. In addition to offering just about every Cuban cigar you can think of to try, there is a smaller cabinet with vintage sticks. Tourgeman is also proud that he is successful in getting regional editions of cigars made for other parts of the globe. Which one will I fire up next?
Tourgeman tells me that he loves the Ramon Allones Specially Selected. I have experience with this powerhouse smoke. Tourgeman hands me one and I smoke it after dinner. Candidly, it's all force and little complexity. The next day, I make up for that one by taking our entire party back to LCDH. We sit on the deck looking out at the passing yachts in the Cancún lagoon. I clip and light one of my favorites, the Partagas Serie D No. 4. I order Santiago de Cuba dark rum, rocks on the side. This is the way to do things.
Tourgeman tells the story of tourists who arrive from the U.S. who stop by the shop even before they get to their hotels.
"They just bring in all their luggage and go right into the humidor," he says. "Some buy 10 boxes. They're here for a week. I don't ask questions." He adds that he sells about 45 boxes of Montecristos every day.
The temptation is there. With so many choices smoking a Cuban cigar at La Casa del Habano in Cancún is a distinct pleasure, made so even more by the superb hospitality of the staff at LCDH.
Alejandro Benes lives and works in Southern California.
La Casa del Habano
Boulevard Kukulkan, Zona Hotelera 77500
Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico
+52 998 840 7000
Open every day 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., or whenever