As the exclusive distributor of Cuban Habanos cigars in the Asia-Pacific region, the Pacific Cigar Company’s new Cohiba Atmosphere Cambodia retail space in the heart of Phnom Penh provides the perfect setting to enjoy world-class cigars in style
With the grand opening of Cohiba Atmosphere Cambodia at Phnom Penh’s iconic Raffles Hotel Le Royal last month, the Pacific Cigar Company has opened a new chapter in the legacy of its late founder and chairman Sir David Tang, whose legendary love for the finer things in life inspired him to create the exclusive China Club with branches across Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore. Stocking world-class Cuban brands such as Cohiba, Trinidad, Montecristo and Romeo Y Julieta as well as top-tier cigar accessories, this luxurious lounge and retail space caters to executives who appreciate nothing more than a fine cigar enjoyed in even finer company, offering personal lockers for PCC Premium and Leisure Club members. We sat down with Pacific Cigar Company regional director Joe Thawilvejjakul to talk about how Southeast Asia’s appreciation for cigars has evolved with the region’s changing fortunes.
Pacific Cigar Company has been a pioneer of the cigar scene across much of the region. Could you talk about how the market for cigars has developed over the past few years?
PCC has been in the cigar business since 1992, and through these years we have seen a solid growth of the cigar market throughout the region. People are becoming more sophisticated and lifestyle conscious and are always on the lookout for the finest things that life can offer. To a selective group of high net worth individuals, the cigar has become the epitome of living and dining well.
In your experience, how have people’s taste in cigars changed over the years?
Over the years, cigar aficionados have been enjoying smaller and more robust cigars. I think this has much to do with time constraints. They are enjoying fewer but better quality cigars. They are also looking for the right atmosphere that provides excellent service to enjoy their cigars in good company alongside fine whisky or cognac.
What makes the Cambodian market for cigars distinct from other perhaps more developed markets in the region?
The Cambodian market is relatively young in terms of cigar appreciation but interest is growing amongst the well-to-do. Having said that, Cambodia enjoys steady growth of high-end tourists that appreciate cigars as part of their lifestyle – these are our potential customers. In terms of the market, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and other markets in the region are very advanced in terms of cigar appreciation.
What advice would you give to people who are new to the world of cigars?
If you are not a smoker, it’s better to stay off any tobacco products but if you are keen on developing the taste for cigars, I would recommend that you start with the classic like Montecristo No. 4 that gives them a true taste of what great Cuban is like. Cigars, like fine wines and cuisine, appeals differently to different palate so do samples different cigars and you’ll find the cigar that’s right for you. One must always be mindful of cigar etiquette keeping in mind that cigar is an art of appreciation not addiction.