The 2015 Festival del Habano, also known as the Cigar Festival, was held from February 23rd through February 27th, 2015. Media was quick to publish splashy shots of Paris Hilton and British super model Naomi Campbell trifling with Fidel Castro’s son, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, but there was bigger news than Hollywood types.
As Dave reported from the festival, this year’s event was a gathering place for the world’s cigar aficionados to learn, buy and enjoy the finest and most historic cigars in the world. The Friday night gala marked the crowning social moment of the festival. Havana’s Pabexpo Convention Center hosted the highly publicized dinner dance and reception. Indeed, Ms. Campbell and the buxom Ms. Hilton dazzled onlookers and the more than 1,000 guests.
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But, the importance of the festival was more appropriately represented by several rather remarkable auctions. One auction of six custom-made humidors raised more than $740,000 for support of Cuba’s public health system.
Jorge Luís Fernández Maique, Vice President of prominent cigar manufacturer Habanos, thrilled attendees with his recounting of the development of the iconic Montecristo, the manufacturer’s youngest of six premium brands, but a smashing success. Habanos is a Cuban monopoly owned in partnership by Imperial Tobacco PLC of the UK and the Cuban government. The company treated all gala attendees with free Montecristo’s, the biggest selling cigar in the world.
Habanos was founded in 1935 by Alonso Menendez. The speaker reminded guests that over the course of the modern history of Cuban cigars some easily recognized brands have emerged and were made more popular by a number of world leaders. The gala concluded when guests were given their last present of the evening, a 6.5 inch by 55 ring gauge Montecristo 80th Anniversario.
Habanos released the Montecristo Churchill Anejado in 2014 and guests seemed thrilled with this newest product. This cigar features a new Montecristo band with a unique gold background and is expected to be a smash hit in England and the US.
The auction was led by British cigar connoisseur and industry authority, Simon Chase. The first auctioned humidor honored the H. Upmann brand and included 400 cigars, 25 of which were Sir Winstons. The selling price was the equivalent of 95,148 USD.
The highest selling price went to the final humidor, which contained 75 Behikes, 25 Cohiba 1966 and 25 Cohiba Robustos Supremos, a 2014 Edicion Limitada and many others from the Cohiba line. The selling price was 250 euros.
Dave and Yordi are planning a tour to include the 2016 Cigar Festival in Havana. It is not too early to make your plans. Contact Dave at Info@travelguidecuba.com for details.
American Gary Heathcott received the Habanos Man Of The Year award for his work in support of humanitarian aid to Cuba and other Latino countries. The owner of Casa del Habanos, George Fereos was Businessman of the Year and Rogelio Ortuzar received kudos as most productive tobacco farmer in Cuba. Ortuzar has been producing outstanding tobacco for 40 years.
Dave and guests stayed at the Melia Cohiba, who handled the increased traffic without a hitch. The Melia is a stunning hotel in Havana and overlooks the picturesque Malecon and Caribbean Sea.
This marks the 17th year the Festival del Habanos has welcomed cigar lovers and industry experts from more than 60 countries to Havana. As beautiful and Ms. Hilton and Ms. Campbell are, the show stoppers at this festival were the cigars. Gala dinner guests were treated to rather spectacular dancing and singing by some of Cuba’s amazing performers.
If you like cigars and want to learn more about Cuba’s relevance in this market, add this festival to your travel plans next year.