Champagne wishes and caviar dreams became my TV slogan at the end of every episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.” Now I can add “cigar pleasures” for the hat trick thanks to last week’s arrival of the first Davidoff of Geneva cigar bar on the Las Vegas Strip.
The luxurious, semi-circular building features an intimate, indoor bar area and 50-seat exterior, ultra lounge-like patio outside Fashion Show mall opposite Wynn Las Vegas on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Father-and-son Frank and Matthew Arcella own and operate 11 retail cigar boutiques in the Strip casinos. This is Davidoff’s seventh licensed boutique in the city. Frank and Matt employ 100 people in their Davidoff of Geneva and Swarovski boutiques, which they have built up after 16 years in retail here.
The new venue on the forecourt of Nevada’s largest shopping center sits center stage on the new 22, 000-square-foot outdoor plaza that will be home soon to the new Sugar Factory flagship candy and party playground. Fashion Show itself, which welcomes 50, 000 people each day, is 2 million square feet.
This first Davidoff cigar bar has two on-staff cigar ambassadors just like a sommelier in a French restaurant. They’ve trained many butlers attending to the well heeled in our Strip hotels. They’ll guide you through the joys and pleasures of stogies, including the top-of-the-line $500 white gold Davidoff cigar.
For special events such as this weekend’s Super Bowl 50 and March Madness, there will be cigar rollers on hand at Davidoff, which boasts a state-of-the-art ventilation system.
It used to be that Cuba had the world’s monopoly on cigars, but since Fidel Castro turned it into a communist enclave, that honor has gone to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Cuba is now the only country not importing the prestigious Connecticut wrapper leaves.
If the embargo is lifted to allow Cuban cigars into America, there will be trademark fights over such names as Cohiba and Monte Cristo because they are owned by European companies who will claim infringements if Cubans with the same name find their way to the United States.
Even Zino Davidoff had a falling out with Fidel in 1989 complaining about the deteriorating quality of Cuban cigar production. “The main problem was the lack of fields, ” Matt told me. “They never gave the soil a year off to rest.
“A cigar takes five years with the curing to make, so Cuba can’t produce more. Davidoff was so upset that he burned his own Havana headquarters to the ground and moved to the Dominican Republic.”
His father Henri’s original retail store in Paris dates back before company headquarters were relocated to Geneva in 1911. Zino worked for two years on a Cuban plantation after he finished school in 1924. In 1970, the small but highly successful tobacco shop was sold to Max Oettinger Co.
After Zino’s death at age 87 in 1994, the company was purchased by Tchibo Holdings, then sold in 2006 to the Imperial Tobacco giant (Rothmans, Benson & Hedges) for $540 million.
Although global demand for cigars is stable, Frank told me that sales in recent years have dropped by about 3 percent, but the quality of cigar has improved, resulting in higher prices and more revenue.
Frank believes his Davidoff cigar bar and outdoor lounge is the future of the cigar business, as smoking has become restricted in recent years.
“In a cigar bar, you expect to see cigar smokers, and outside nobody takes offense. We have the best walk-in humidor in Las Vegas. We have all premium cigars, not just Davidoff. We also have the best spirits and drinks menu.
“We are the stop between dinner and the nightclub experience. We are the cocktail hour. We are the lunchtime break from 11 a.m. daily. We are the midnight romantic hour. With the warmer weather about to arrive, we’ll remain open past 2 a.m.
“We have the traditional cigar smokers, but we’re finding that our bar and lounge concept is now attracting the nonsmoker, too.”
We all know that Sir Winston Churchill was perhaps the most famous VIP to enjoy his cigars, and here in Las Vegas George Burns was never without his El Producto or Milton Berle his Upmann’s.
You may well catch NBA legend Michael Jordan, film director Francis Ford Coppola, new “Celebrity Apprentice” host Arnold Schwarzenegger, conservative radio firebrand Rush Limbaugh and comedienne Whoopi Goldberg in the stunning walk-in humidor room there, as all are aficionados.
You’ll certainly catch me there buying a 10-stick box of the new, exclusive Las Vegas Belicoso cigars with our Strip skyline imprinted on the ivory-white mini-chest.
As experts say, “You can have a fine woman, you can have a classic cognac or champagne, you can savor the caviar, but first things first — nothing comes before a great cigar.”
Champagne wishes, caviar dreams and cigar pleasures!
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.