Domincan Republic - Cigar Shopping

Old Mar 10th, 1997, 10:52 AM
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Domincan Republic - Cigar Shopping

I have been to the Dominican Republic four times, and have loved it more every time. My father is employed by a major cigar manufacturing company - he is a high-grade cigar salesman. His company makes their cigars in the D.R.. I have taken a tour of the cigar factory there, and I have a hightened respect for the art of cigar-making! I'm not sure if you are able as a tourist to tour the factory itself, but it is located in the Zona Fria(? - I probably didn't spell that corectly, but it means the "free zone"). You are unable to buy anything in the free zone, as it is untaxed, and if you try to take their products beyond the border of the free zone, you are asking for trouble. You can buy their products in the finer stores though. Be careful about buying cigars from vendors on the streets, on the beach, and in local flea markets. I have seen them try to sell cigars that they claimed to be genuine "Cuban", and in reality, according to my father, ere instead a blend of Dominican and Cuban tobaccos ith a false cuban label on the box. I don't have the names of any specific stores for you to visit, but I'll check and get back to you on that. Take care.
Old Mar 10th, 1997, 03:06 PM
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Hi, Terry. I checked on some information for you since my original reply to your question about cigar shopping in the D.R.. First of all, the Free Zone is called the Zona Franca, not Fria, like I originally told you! Sorry! There are three major cigar factories that I can tell you about. The first 2 are in the Zona Franca, and that is in the city of Santiago. They are General Cigar Dominicana and Arturo Fuente. The third factory is located outside of Santiago, in a city called La Romana - the factory is called Consolidated Cigar Factory. La Romana is, I believe, on the southeast corner of the island, and that may possibly be a bit closer to Punta Cana, but I'm not sure of that. There are some smaller cigar factories around Santiago, but they are not located in the free zone. Tours of most of the factories are indeed offered to the public. My advice to you is to check ith the factories themselves by calling before you go on your trip. You may be able to arrange for a tour in advance. Also, I ould (the double-you! is broken on my keyboard - sorry!) call your hotel and ask if they are able to arrange or if they offer any tours to the factories. If not, definitely call the factories themselves before going. I can't give you any directions unfortunately - I took a taxi to Santiago from Puerta Plata, and it took us about an hour and a half to get there. Driving on the island is not recommended anyay, and any reputable taxi driver can take you to the factories regardless of your not having any directions to give them. As far as the names of stores that sell cigars near Punta Cana, that I can't tell you. Sorry. I can tell you that if you are looking for Cuban cigars, and you are trying to decide if you are indeed holding a box of GENUINE Cuban cigars in your hand as opposed to Dominican cigars being passed off to tourists as being Cuban, here's something you need to check to make sure: if they are genuine Cuban cigars, the box should have an official-looking green seal on it that says,"Country of Origin - Republic of Cuba". If you don't see that seal, don't buy the cigars - you're being ripped off. Some good Dominican cigars to consider are Macanudo, Partagas and Fuente. Cohiba is also a good cigar - it's tobaccos are part Dominican, part Cuban. Be careful - there is also a Cohiba that is purely Cuban - don't get confused! Expect to spend around $75-$80 for a good box of Dominican cigars. For Cuban cigars, they can run around $15-$20 each, or about $300-$400 per box. So keep in mind that the prices are still quite steep in the D.R. for cigars. Be cautious - buy only from a reputable store, not from street vendors as I said before. I am not sure of any cigar/tobacco specialty stores that exist, although that doesn't mean there aren't any around. I hope I have helped you. Good luck cigar hunting, and if you have any more questions, feel free to e-mail me directly. If not, have a great trip! Allison

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