It’s the week after Valentine’s Day and that means it’s cigar festival time. The cigar industry’s two oldest and largest festivals—the Dominican Republic’s Procigar and Cuba’s Festival del Habano—take place on consecutive weeks with the former beginning the Sunday after Valentine’s Day.
Procigar refers to both the festival, as well as a Dominican cigar manufacturer’s association that includes the biggest producers on the island: Tabacalera de García, De Los Reyes, Tabacalera A. Fuente, General Cigar Dominicana, Tabacalera La Alianza, La Aurora, La Flor Dominicana, Tabacalera Palma, PDR Cigars and Quesada.
For most attendees, the festival won’t begin until Tuesday with a cocktail party in Santiago, where most of the cigar manufacturers are based. However, Tabacalera de García—the world’s largest cigar factory—is located on the eastern part of the island in La Romana and as such, the festival formally begins there before heading to Santiago on Tuesday.
This year, Procigar is once again back at Casa de Campo, one of the best resorts on the island.
Due to some issues on my end, I didn’t arrive into Punta Cana until 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, much later than planned and much too late to make it to the night’s planned activity. As it turns out, there was dinner and what appeared to be a version of Top Golf, complete with light-up balls and illuminated targets. It should be noted, Casa de Campo is home to a few Pete Dye-designed golf courses. I don’t know much about golf, but I do know Teeth of the Dog is considered a premier course and the views on the course are stunning.
By the time I got settled in the room, I managed to grab a drink—or two—at the lobby bar along with a cigar before calling it a night.
The next morning, I woke up and joined a few people from Altadis, whose cigars are produced at Tabacalera de García, to take advantage of another amenity at Casa de Campo: clay shooting.
This is not my sport. pic.twitter.com/qdGIsOywEq
— Charlie Minato (@charlieminato) February 20, 2018
I might live in Texas, but a hunter I am not. That being said, I managed to hit my first three clays and then missed the next five. I enjoyed it—and it highlights one of the best parts of Casa de Campo, it’s not a massive resort in the number of rooms, but the amenities are awesome.
I then headed back to the bar for another mojito and lunch, as well as to get some work done before the first planned activity, a riverboat tour with Tabacalera de García.
As in year’s past, Tabacalera de García has understood that it has an audience all to itself with no other cigar factories. And it really does a good job of playing host. Each year has gotten a bit better and the river cruise was a nice touch.
We went down the Chavón River, which was incredibly scenic and used for filming in Apocalypse Now, Jurassic Park and a couple Rambo films.
Travis Pappenheim, Altadis U.S.A.’s education manager did a brief seminar before letting people drink, eat, smoke and mingle as we took in the scenery.
After that, I headed back to the lobby bar for another mojito—there might be a theme here—and then got cleaned up for dinner, which was hosted at Casa de Campo’s new beach club. We had lunch here last year, but the sandy beach spot we ate on 12 months ago has been replaced by a pool and deck. Tabacalera de García brought in live music and a family-style meal that was really good—and ended with the crèm brûlée you see above.
After a few more mojitos and Presidentes, the local Dominican beer, I decided to get a handful of hours of sleep before day two, which has a habit of being the longest day of the week.
Disclosure: Procigar paid for my registration, which includes lodging and meals.