If you’ve forgotten about the Dominican Republic’s capital city of Santo Domingo, Villiger has just given you a very good reason to get it back on your radar—the official flagship Villiger lounge, which is open to the public.
Sure, the old fortress and limestone battlements of Santo Domingo’s colonial district are beautiful, and so is the Plaza de España. But even in traffic, this new lounge is well worth the short car ride to the ABAM factory. That’s where the lounge is located, and it makes sense. ABAM produces many of Villiger’s premium cigars, most notably La Flor de Ynclan (The Robusto size was named Cigar Aficionado’s No. 10 cigar of 2017).
The new build-out is part of Villiger’s effort to bring more cigar tourism to Santo Domingo, and, more to the point, to raise brand awareness for Villiger cigars in a comfortable environment.
At over 1,000 square feet, the space is a comfortable size, and, like any proper cigar lounge, it was designed with warm surfaces, handsome furniture and a well-stocked bar with a particular emphasis on Caribbean rums.
Here’s something unusual though: It’s located on ABAM’s upper level, and an entire wall serves as a window, giving a great panoramic view of the rolling gallery. It’s kind of like having a diamond-view suite at a baseball stadium, only the ongoing action is the production of cigars.
According to the designer, Gilberto Rodriguez, the gnarly tree-trunk base used for the central table was taken from a tree that used to belong to former Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. True or not, it’s an eye-catching piece and certainly adds some folklore to the lounge’s ambience.
Now, how does one manage a visit? Well, Villiger says there are three ways: By invitation, by appointment, or by coordinating a visit with the tour operator.
You pay an initial fee for the tour of the factory. This will cover a walking tour of the facility, seven cigars, drinks at the bar and time to relax in the lounge afterward. The cigar selection includes Villiger’s La Flor de Ynclan, La Libertad, Villiger 1888, Villiger Kreme, and more brands that have yet to be determined.
More than likely, you’ll get to meet factory owner José Mathias Maragoto, who operates ABAM along with his wife, Aidee. And if you’re lucky, you might just run into Mr. Heinrich Villiger himself.
Abam Cigar Factory
Zona Franca Industrial de Villa Mella Nave #6
Buena Vista Primera
Villa Mella, Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic
Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.