Bespoke Cuban Holidays for the Discerning Traveller

Habanos Cigar Festival

2014 will be the 11 th edition of the world famous  Habanos  International Cigar Festival The event will run from Monday, February 28 th to March 1  2014. With exclusive opening and closing  concerts and events  the festival pays  tribute to Habanos’ brands that are famous throughout the world, and the program includes: visits to cigar factories, a trade fair, seminars, tastings and pairing ups, Sommelier  contest, and demonstrations on how roll a Habanos as well as visit to tobacco plantations.

Welcome evening 210.00
Visit to tobacco plantations 75.00
International Seminar on Cuban Cigars 325.00
Visit to the Habanos Factory 10.00
Evening with Vegueros 250.00
Gala Evening 525.00

Special Rates For Esencia Clients from 70 gbp pp single occupancy and 50 gbp pp dbl occupancy in 5 star centrally located Hotels.


The legendary tale of Cuban cigars rolled on the thighs of virgins has drawn many a smoking aficionado to the Caribbean island. But, like much in Cuba, fact woven with fiction forges an alluring appeal…

When explorer Christopher Columbus landed on Cuba’s eastern shores in 1492 he was met by Taíno indians puffing at leaves. Wisps of smokes trailed from the burning end of these tubes of leaves that the native Indians called cohiba. They were later shipped from the New World to the tobacco capital of the Old World, Seville, where the journey from humble leaf to world-class cigar was sealed. Several hundred years later in 1966 the Cohiba was created as a private cigar for Fidel Castro; the country’s best leaves are now used to create this signature smoke…

Our itinerary will take you on a journey to where the Nicotiana tabacum seed flourishes in the fertile fields of Pinar del Río province in Western Cuba, to the factories in Havana where each cigar is hand-rolled and crafted, to the smoking houses and rooms of Havana’s finest establishments, and on to the shops of the official purveyor of fine smokes, the Casa del Habano. Here you may handpick your homeward-bound stogies from humidor after humidor with the help of Cuba’s best cigar sommeliers.

Geography and geology have been kind to Western Cuba. Here, in the Vuelta Abajo region, the soils and rains create the perfect six-foot tobacco plant whose leaves are graded according to height. We will tour the area, accompanied by vegueros (tobacco farmers), taking in visits to casas del tabaco where the gathered leaves are hung to cure.

Alejandro Robaina, who died in 2010, was Cuba’s most famous tobacco farmer. The Cuban government created the Vegas Robaina cigar in his honour. His Pinar del Río farm can be visited where his family still runs the operation. We will stay the night in the Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where limestone stacks covered in tumbling vegetation, stud the valley floor. Tobacco fields roll around the mini mountains (known as mogotes) and casas del tabaco complete the perfect picturesque rural scene.

On returning to Havana we will visit the Fábrica de Tabaco Partagás. A guided tour of this city centre cigar factory will take you through the process that creates the finest puros in the world. Enveloped in the aroma of tobacco, admire the professional paraphernalia of the cigar roller – from scales, to piles of filler leaves and ligero leaves (top of the plant leaves), cigar moulds, steel blades, cigar guillotines and the paste that concludes the journey of the handcrafted cigar at the rolling station.

In the factory shop, survey the master brands of habanos (including Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta) clamped in with their anillos (decorated bands bearing the brand name) and displayed in boxes marked Hecho in Cuba (Made in Cuba). After taking advice on fragrance, flavour and draw from Havana’s best cigar connoisseurs, recline in some of Havana’s most atmospheric and elegant bars. A Cuban puro along with a classic mojito on the alfresco terrace of the iconic Hotel Nacional is a rite of passage as would be a puff of your favourite cigar in Ernest Hemingway’s haunt El Floridita on the edge of La Habana Vieja. At this old town establishment, with its luxurious elongated bar, order up a daiquirí while savouring the legendary taste of the Cuban habano…

For the cigar journey par excellence, time your trip to coincide with the annual Festival del Habano, held in Havana every February that includes a private visit to the vaults of Cuba’s Habanos company.

If you want to continue your journey exploring Cuba, take our hidden Havana tour where you can discover the stories, secrets and hidden beauties of the city that will astound and inspire.

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