Tropical Oasis: Costa Rica’s Casa del Habano

    Photo: Timothy Donahue

    Cigars have been selling at a steady pace through the pandemic at Costa Rica’s home for Cuban cigars.

    By Timothy S. Donahue

    Cuban cigar sales at the La Casa del Habano (LCDH) in Costa Rica grew in 2020 compared to the previous year. The shop’s manager, Beatriz Ramirez, said sales in 2021 are now on pace to surpass 2020. “People have had more time to enjoy quality cigars,” she told Tobacco Reporter during a recent visit to the country’s capital, San Jose. “We were concerned at the beginning when businesses began to close because of Covid-19, but our sales remained steady and even surpassed 2019.”

    Located just down the street from the U.S. Embassy (approximately 250 feet east), Costa Rica’s LCDH franchise opened its doors in 2011. The shop is owned by the Cruz Canela Group, which is the exclusive distributor of Habanos S.A. in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The shop is operated by general manager Luis Garcia Cruz (who happened to be out of the country on business during our visit). Ramirez explained that the shop is an old, classic-style former home in the popular neighborhood of Rohmoser (Pavas).

    Inside the doors are two large classic Cohiba branded humidors just before the doorway to the shop’s large humidor filled with several popular Habanos brands and vitolas, including Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagas, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Trinidad, Bolivar, Ramon Allones, La Gloria Cubana, Punch, Fonseca and several others. Just across the hall from the humidor is the checkout area with several glass display cases. The room also has a small spiral staircase that leads to offices upstairs.

    “La Casa del Habano provides all of our customers the comfort and personal attention that should be expected from Habanos and LCDH,” said Ramirez. “Here you can find the largest selection of Habanos throughout Costa Rica as well as accessories, such as cutters, lighters, ashtrays and even some very beautiful humidors.” There is also a book on the history of Habanos as well as hats and other merchandise for sale.

    LCDH is more of a home away from home for cigar smokers than your typical cigar shop. The Costa Rican shop has two separate lounge areas for customers to conduct a business meeting, relax with the daily paper or swap stories of worldly adventures with other visitors. Just past the humidor is a room set in an imitate space for smoking, furnished with relaxing lounge chairs and a large comfortable couch.

    “We try to offer a variety of space for the comfort of our guests. We have had celebrities, politicians and many leaders in the community come together here to conduct business or to just socialize,” explains Ramirez. “We also provide many services beyond our excellent cigars to make our clients comfortable and welcome in the best environment for enjoying Cuban cigars from Habanos.”

    A short hallway that houses two large H. Upmann branded humidors then opens into a larger room with several tables and couches with a bar in the corner that offers liquor, wine, beer, amazing coffee and even some Costa Rican chocolates. Guests are encouraged to order food from one of the many surrounding restaurants and have it delivered to LCDH to enjoy. The walls of LCDH are adorned with several works of art depicting both Cuban and Costa Rican life. There is also a small outdoor courtyard for clients to enjoy.

    Habanos released an exclusive regional edition cigar in Costa Rica in 2020. Called the Pura Vida (a statement that describes several things in Costa Rica and has been adopted as the country’s motto), the San Luis Ray is a Magnum 54 and measures in at 54 x 120 mm (4 3/4 inches). Only 6,000 of the 10-stick boxes were produced. The cigar is medium bodied with a honey and floral start, with hints of vanilla and creaminess throughout. We also sampled the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 1. The Coronas Gordas measures 143 mm in length by a 46 ring gauge (46 x 143 mm). The cigar began with strong notes of cedar and followed with notes of toasted cinnamon, nutmeg, mint and a touch of sweetness.

    Costa Ricans (Ticos) use the term “Pura Vida” to say almost everything from hello to goodbye to everything’s great or even just so-so. It’s all about the tone. Pura Vida is the way Ticos live. If ever visiting in Costa Rica, LCDH in San Jose is a necessary stop. The quality of cigars and customer service are unparalleled in the region. More than that, LCDH embodies all that is Pura Vida.