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TRAVEL WATCH: SEPTEMBER 20, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 11

Detour

By JAMES ELLERBECK

    ALSO IN TIME
Seaside Vacations That Don't Get You Wet
Modern deep-sea explorers peer through portholes in comfort, filming their surroundings with remote video cameras and enjoying a snack as they go where few have gone before

Short Cuts
The launch of a U.S. Consulate General office in Ho Chi Minh City last month is good news for Vietnamese wishing to travel abroad

Detour
Now that Hong Kong's economy seems to be on the mend, it's time to break out the stogies

Off the Shelf
Become the complete Richard Branson-branded traveler by picking up one of his new Virgin City Guides

Hot Tip
The Journeywoman website offers a smorgasbord of special-interest Asia trip tips for veteran and novice travelers

Now that Hong Kong's economy seems to be on the mend, it's time to break out the stogies. Hong Kong offers a plethora of swanky tabaquerias where cigar buffs can gather to light up vintage Cohibas. Their popularity is inspired in part by local entrepreneur and swell-about-town David Tang, the biz whiz behind Shanghai Tang. Tang, who serves as Cuba's honorary consul in Hong Kong, also runs the Pacific Cigar Co., through which he is the sole purveyor of Havana cigars in Asia. In 1992 Tang opened the Cohiba Cigar Divan on the ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, catering to a small number of devoted smokers. Since then, its customer base has grown and he has opened two other chichi cigar salons: La Casa Del Habano, a hint of Havana in the Sheraton Hotel, and The Nurse, a mod, all-white smokery with a Clockwork Orange-esque ambience in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel that also serves food and has a fine wine cellar. There are plenty of other smoke shops around town, as well. The walk-in humidor at Davidoff in the Peninsula Hotel is the city's oldest cigar outlet, with more than two decades in the business. Davidoff boasts the best of the Dominican Republic, along with accessories from cutters to neckties. The Tobacalera Cigar Divan in the Island Shangri-La is a cozy place to enjoy cigars from the Philippines and elsewhere, while Aficionado Cigarros in the JW Marriott offers the chance to savor a stogie in the comfort of a massage chair, along with the choice of more than 30 brands from six countries. Upscale cigar bars can also be found at the Harbour Plaza Hotel and at the Excelsior Hotel. Want more? On Oct. 31, Christie's is hosting its first Asian auction of rare and vintage cigars, at the Island Shangri-La. At this rate, Hong Kong could soon rival London for the title of "The Big Smoke."

RELATED LINKS:
For more on the cigar scene in Southeast Asia check out:
http://fujipub.com/btac/ss9913.html
www.cigarweekly.com/Columns/sung/9903.htm


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