Robaina's plantation

Friday 28 September 2012

Hotel Comodoro, Miramar, Havana (my review)

                I really wasn't expecting very much from this hotel so on that note I got exactly what I expected. The rooms were clean and well kept, the lobby bar was open 24 hours, they had phones for international calls but most importantly for me, my friend Crisantos Miranda was rolling cigars in the cigar shop in the hotel lobby. Being able to come downstairs from my room and pick out the cigar I was going to smoke with my morning coffee was a huge plus for me (and for the hotel).
                They advertise this hotel as a 4 star but there's no way it's a four star. It's lucky to be thought of as a 3 star. Just walking around certain parts of the property will put you in a depression. There are areas that aren't being used and left to deteriorate due to neglect. The so-called beach (man-made) that they boast about looked so bad I couldn't take a picture of it. There's no way anyone would use it so forget about it. There wasn't any excuse either, it was summer. There was an area enclosed or protected from currents and larger waves but still ocean where guests would swim laps. I did notice a few people using this pool in the mornings. The lobby doesn't look too bad but certainly isn't anything amazing with the lobby bar to the right, the cigar shop to the left and reception in the middle. From here you can snake your way around to the various restaurants and facilities. However, I had the opportunity to sit in the lobby and the bar a few times at different times of the day and I can say the air-conditioning sucks. It was not comfortable at all in the lobby during the month of July.
                  Breakfast was included with our reservation so we decided to try it out one morning. The restaurant was at the end of the hall with a view of the horrible unkept beach. The breakfast mirrored the beach, it was terrible. The offerings were absolutely inedible for my tastes. I would suggest having the omelette guy fix you a couple of eggs and have them with some bread. A word of advise if you have an omelette, be careful of the ingredients they use to stuff it. I would have it as plain as possible. Along the buffet line the meats were a mystery as was most of the other stuff in the serving trays. The fruits were not ripe and the juices were watered down. The coffee was so-so.
                   The room was decent, although I didn't take a picture of it. We had a balcony facing the ocean and I love having my cigar with a view of the water. We couldn't really have asked for better. The TV worked well and had lots of channels. There was a safe in the room that could be used for a nominal fee. We didn't have enough hangers but once requested we were brought a whole bunch. The bathroom didn't look or smell that great but at least the toilet worked. My girlfriend complained about the lighting as she was getting ready. The beds were comfortable but good luck in finding an AC plug next to the bed, actually the whole room. We had to use the one in the bathroom to charge our phones and camera batteries. The pool, which is suppose to be an attraction wasn't too bad I guess but a little too noisy and sort of crammed for us. It snaked through the Bungalow section of the hotel and although it might be nice for some people to rent one of these Bungalows, I thought of the lack of privacy being right next to the pool. It's something I might have done years ago when I was younger.
                  They had activities throughout the day for the guests and an animation team that put on shows at night but we didn't take part in any of that. As far as the service goes, reception was very slow. No acknowledgement while you were standing there waiting for service, ignored us completely. The pool bar?? I grew a beard while I was waiting for service at the pool bar. The only time I got good service was at the Lobby Bar at anytime of the day. They even added a cocktail I asked for (The Negroni) on their cocktail list when I requested it one day. They didn't know what it was but once I showed them they added it to their list the next day. It didn't matter who worked there, they were always pleasant and always said hello. I also discovered room service on my last day there. That was decent as well.
                   Would I come back to this Hotel?? I preferred the Hotel Copacabana that's just down the street. If I booked in the area again, that would probably be my choice. However, as I said, if you are a cigar lover as I am, to be able to pick your cigar out of Crisantos' Humidor in the morning is heaven. If you think that would be special for you then this Hotel is worth trying. Regardless, it wasn't completely horrible and is worth trying anyway. What isn't so good for me might be okay for you. Who knows, after having said all this, I might return just the same. The price is definitely right coming from my city.



Lobby Bar

One of the Restaurants

Art hangs in Every Hotel in Havana

Morning and Night views from our Balcony

The Pool

Pool Bar

Outside entrance to Cigar Shop

Roller's Table

Crisantos Miranda

Crisantos' Humidor

Monday 24 September 2012

Cohiba Robusto (cigar review)

                 I was given this cigar by an Aficionado friend of mine who was trying to turn me around. I didn't have a good impression of the Cohiba Robusto and my friend was trying to convince me that you need to age them a few years. I have always been used to getting a box and smoking it, I mean smoking it within a few months. I've been told they need a few years to rest to shake off some of that youth. Of course I was willing to check it out. This particular stick was from 2006.
                  This cigar was kind of rough looking with a bumpy cap. The wrapper was light coloured and slightly veiny. It was very solid to the touch, like a rock. The pre-light draw gave me light wood and spice. Once lit the draw was perfect; big, bold and very peppery delivering big clouds of smoke with every draw. I was picking up flavours of earth and wood with a hint of chocolate.
                  At the first 3/4" the burn is even. The edge has come off slightly since I lit this cigar and started drinking Zacapa Rum. By the time I got to the first inch the burn was almost perfect, the draw was perfect and the flavours were evening out and becoming very smooth. Just caught a whiff of tea up the nose. The ash is a little flaky but otherwise perfect. It started out as a strong cigar but closer to a medium now.
                 Near the halfway mark and I'm getting earthy bitter chocolate flavours. Flicked the ash because I didn't want to make a mess and realized the ash was very stiff. I could have gone on much longer before the ash would have fallen on it's own. The ash that was left was a perfect cone shape telling me it was an excellent roll.
                 At the halfway mark, picking up some black tea and getting stronger. The cigar doesn't change much through this quarter but by the time I reach the last quarter I pick up hints of floral and shortly after that it mellows again. The burn is still perfect with no touch ups so far. Dominant chocolate flavours now with notes of earth and wood. Picking up a little strength on and off through this last quarter. At this point I flicked the cigar for the second time and noticed it burning a little hotter through the middle, I hadn't noticed. I touched up the cigar with my torch. Closer to the end the bitterness began to peek through but I kept on going. It began to kick my butt, getting stronger with every draw. I even had to use a clip to hold the cigar but it wasn't until a short while after that and I gave it up.
                 In conclusion.....I liked it. It was definitely much better than smoking a current release. I learned that this is a cigar that needs to be put down a few years. Can it get better?? This cigar still had a lot of life to it and could have laid down a few more years. Unlike the cigar I smoked after this one that seamed to have lost flavour through the years. If you buy these cigars, make sure to lay them down a few years. They are not for beginners, a big, strong smoke.


Iglesia del Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje (Havana)

                   This church was built in 1664 but has gone through many changes through the years. The twin hexagonal towers were constructed during Pedro Morell de Santa Cruz's time as bishop after 1754. The tower of the Epistle once had a clock and the tower of the Gospel contains 4 bells, the oldest being cast in 1515. The image of Christ crucified within the church is more than 3 centuries old. The church takes it's name from all the travellers who would make this their last stop before going on a trip. They would stop here and pray before going on a journey, which was always dangerous in those days, and hence the name "Church of the Saint of a Good Voyage".
                    The church itself has not been very lucky having had major damages occur during storms through the years and almost being demolished in 1789 and again in 1868. The largest renovations took place under the Augustinian order in 1926 when the original stone walls were removed and replaced by new stonework and the church expanded. At this time the aisles were widened, Tuscan columns were built and 9 marble alters were added. Each of the nine alters was devoted to a saint who wasn't represented in the church earlier. Father John J. McKniff, the pastor of the church 1941-68, even added a school in a building next door which taught poor children for free. That building is still there and still teaching children but is now owned by the government. When his term was up in 1968, the Augustinian order left the church. A Salesian priest has led the church since that time. Finally in 1993 the church went through another crisis when it's ceiling  fell onto the alter. It has since been restored.
                    Walking by this church, as I have, you would think it's shut down. I never see it open and would think it's just another one of those buildings that's been slated for demolition. It is open but not for too many hours, you just have to know when.

Calle Villegas e/Amargura y Lamparilla
Hours of operation: 11am-1pm    6pm-8pm