Tobacconist Association to Meet at CasaMagna in Cancun
The 2009 Tobacconists' Association of America (TAA) Convention kicks off on Sunday, March 8. Tobacconists and manufacturers from around the world will converge on the CasaMagna Marriott for four days of reconnecting, deal-making and of course plenty of cigar smoking. I'm currently at this Cancun resort and am happy to give the attendees – and jealous onlookers – a few insights into the event's host.
Surprisingly, smoking bans have crossed the border, forcing the CasaMagna to be smoke-free. The lobby, restaurants, bars and guestrooms, for the most part, are off-limits for puffing. Fortunately, poolside smoking is fine, and you can light up in the bar that sits alongside the beach.
Igniting your cigar may be a challenge. With airlines frustrating efforts to carry torches, matches may be your only available option (unless you bleed your lighter and find someone to refill it for you in Cancun. The wind off the Caribbean is strong, so look for sheltered corners to use when firing up (there are a handful of them almost everywhere on the property).
A loophole in Mexico's smoking laws allows CasaMagna to welcome TAA's smokers into the Sa Si Thai restaurant, as it is a covered outdoor space. So, you'll be able to enjoy your favorite Avo, Fuente or Davidoff (or anything else) unmolested. The hotel has extended this restaurant's hours of operation to accommodate late-night indulging. After last call, you can retreat to your room's balcony to tie off the night with your preferred stick.
Gallery: CasaMagna Marriott
Of course, there is plenty at CasaMagna to fill the time between cigars. Several pools dot the property (and the adjacent JW Marriott), several of which have bars in them. The turquoise waters of the Caribbean are mere steps away, and a variety of water sports equipment can be rented. The waters are a bit choppy right now, so be careful. The lifeguards are only on duty from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Both the JW Marriott and CasaMagna have spas on the premises (each is available to guests of both hotels). The larger of the two is at the JW Marriott, with three stories of absolute bliss. Treatments are based on Mayan themes and have a distinctly local flavor. The first floor of the spa – with the beauty parlor, gym and indoor pool – is open to all guests. The second and third floors are predominately used for administering spa treatments (the third floor exclusively for this purpose).
You'll find no shortage of restaurants at the two properties. Sa Si Thai, which is likely to be a favorite for TAA attendees, serves – duh – Thai dishes, based on authentic menus from the nation of origin. The menu was created with local experts who trained the staff on preparation. Simply Seafood delivers fresh masterpieces, and the cold smoked marlin must not be missed. Seriously. It was mere inches shy of orgasmic. With any of the dining options, you'll be hard-pressed to screw up. Hell, I tried ... and failed.
You'd be a fool to spend too much time in your room, especially since you can't smoke in there. But, if you plan to do more than sleep, shave and shower in your short-term home, you'll find plenty of space and large, soft beds. The pillows, unfortunately, were far too mushy for me, but I'd happily plop my melon down on a slab of concrete.
At the end of the day, though, it's all about the cigars. So, show up ready to cut and light. For everyone else, visit your local tobacconist, have a good time and bitch about how much better it would be to fire up a stick while the deep blue water licks your toes.