Cuban cigar lounge Grand Havana Room opens in Moscow
Posted: 25 January 2008 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  992
Joined  2005-11-19

Members of the Grand Havana Room can now sate their appetite for Cuban cigars in style, as the first branch of the exclusive private cigar club outside the U.S. has opened in Moscow.

A U.S. trade embargo on Cuba prohibits the club from offering members Cuban cigars in its two US locations. But despite this setback the Grand Havana Room has attracted some of the biggest names in Hollywood and the international business world to become members. It is so exclusive that its Beverly Hills location has no entrance; instead members enter via a secret elevator in a separate restaurant.

Moscow residents will have no such difficulty finding the door to their local branch as the imposing entrance on Slavyanskaya Square proudly proclaims the club’s existence. However, getting inside the door is not so simple:

“This is a private club that has only very recently opened so the number of new members admitted so far is low,” explains Vladimir Chugunkin, a cigar sommelier for the Grand Havana Room.

All applications for membership have to go through Bob van Ronkle, a tinsel town top cat whose brains, cash and connections made the opening of the Moscow branch possible. Among the golden nameplates of members currently on display on boxes in the club’s

humidor are those of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mel Gibson, although Chugunkin admits that these boxes are at present empty as Arnold and Mel have not yet paid a visit to the Moscow franchise.

“At present most of the members who frequent this club are foreigners,” says Chugunkin.

“Cigar smoking is not as well developed in Russia as it is in other countries such as America. Although we are seeing that an increasing number of smokers in Russia are turning from smoking cigarettes to smoking cigars. It is also currently fashionable in Russia for women to smoke cigars.”

Although the Grand Havana Room Moscow offers a wide selection of cigars, the Cubans are the most popular among the American clientele, for good reason.

“Most of our American members do smoke Cuban cigars as, of course, they are not available in the American locations. Cuban cigars are the highest rung on the ladder of cigar smoking. Once you have smoked Cubans you will not want to go back.”

Certainly while the embargo continues in the U.S., Americans in Moscow with a hankering for havanas may find it difficult to return home.

By Rebeccah Billing


Cuba consulting services