Cigar Lounge With a View

By Joanne A Calitri   |   August 22, 2023
Sean Williams and Steven Janicek inside the humidor at the Cohiba Experience at Bacara (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara held a grand opening of its Cohiba cigar lounge called “Cohiba Experience at Bacara,” on Friday, August 11. The two brands joined three years ago in planning the best options for a cigar lounge as the next level in hospitality engagement. 

The lounge is said to be a first of its kind in the U.S. for Cohiba brands, and the first outdoor patio cigar lounge in our locale. Lead Blender and Ambassador Sean Williams has been curating the concept with Ritz-Carlton Bacara General Manager Steven Janicek for approximately three years. Janicek shared with me at the event: “The concept came up when I was with the owner of the resort who enjoyed a good cigar, talking about the importance of bringing a new amenity to our guests. So we walked the resort and found this area is the natural space for the cigar lounge, it is at the end of the building, an outdoor setting, a view of the Pacific, and people can smoke a cigar here year round. So, we started the process both legal and other areas. I learned the importance of having a partner while I was working at the Ritz-Carlton in Colorado which had a cigar bar, and we researched the best cigar to partner with, and Cohiba jumped to the front of the page. They couldn’t be a better partner with authenticity and knowledge of a cigar experience. We are excited about what this brings forward to Santa Barbara County, and yes, it is absolutely open to the public, we’ve already had businesses from Montecito and Santa Barbara stop by.” And don’t wonder, Janicek reassured that the lounge meets all fire protection permitting and hotel policies for a smoking area. 

I sat and talked with Williams about the cigar experience, his suggestions for someone new to cigars, and why his brand stands out among the others. He said, “For newbies, we recommend the Cohiba Connecticut cigar, it is a blend of six different tobaccos from five different countries, very approachable and good complexity. What sets us apart in the luxury cigar space is we offer an unrivaled range as it relates to diversity in our brand. We have great tobacco from the most distinct regions of the world. Our job is to make cigars you like, so we constantly innovate.”

Tree and Steven Janicek, Vickie and Michael Dyer, Gretchen Walker, Sean Williams, and Ed Anderson (photo by Joanne A Calitri)
Master Cigar Roller David Haddad demos proper technique at the Cohiba Experience at Bacara (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

Excited to invite the public to their connoisseur experience, the event invite was extended to all manner of local press, as well as Cigar Afficionado Magazine, and general paparazzi – cameras and video were everywhere! Seen at the event were Tree Janicek, Master Cigar Roller David Haddad and Julie Hannigan-Haddad, former Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Michael Dyer with his wife Vickie, Cohiba PR director (New Jersey) Victoria Jaworski, Gretchen Walker with husband Ed Anderson, and PR magnet Leigh-Anne Anderson. The event included cigar samplings, cigar rolling demos, live music by the original lounge lizard Luca Ellis and his band, specialty cocktails by The Good Lion, wines, and tapas made to order by hotel chefs.

The Cohiba Experience is located outside through the hotel’s main floor bar area; look for the red wood door. The lounge has an ocean view, and is appointed with hand-painted wall murals, long rectangular fire pits, open seating, a bar and live band area, and a full-on walk-in cedar-lined humidor. The humidor holds a varietal of Cohiba cigars in authentic Boite Nature boxes, boutique cigar cutters and lighters, and high-end liquors for sale that are displayed and stored behind wood framed glass doors on the left. On the right are 24 private mini humidors to hold cigars, liquors, and personals. Required temperature and humidity are digitally controlled. Later this year, the Cohiba Experience will open a membership club for business, corporate, and individuals, and humidor leasing. 

The deco-lounge is clearly a destination point for herfs of any sort, conversation, business meetings, celebrations, and chilling out. Scan the QR code for events and info.


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