Visit Naples, Florida, to marvel at the world’s best cigar lounge.
By Rick Rhay
Photos Courtesy Rocky Patel
When looking at the best of anything in the world of premium cigars, it is absolutely necessary to consider Rocky Patel. The vision of Rocky Patel to create cigars of the finest quality, while also providing a superior value has created an exceptionally loyal world-wide following of fans and cigar connoisseurs. That singular vision has extended to the featured cigar lounge of the Rocky Patel brand, BURN by Rocky Patel. With the flagship location in Naples, Fla., Rocky Patel has created perhaps the finest cigar lounge in the country.
Situated in a popular shopping and dining plaza in the heart of the fashionable coastal town of Naples, BURN has set a new standard for modern luxury and sophistication in cigar lounges while maintaining the wide-reaching popular appeal that has defined the Rocky Patel brand since its inception. Since its opening in 2010, this cigar hot spot has created quite a buzz among the cigar-smoking public, and in the cigar industry as well, with many cigar manufacturers having their international headquarters in nearby Tampa.
EVERYTHING ONE COULD WANT
The setting is sublime: multi-million-dollar waterfront and golf course homes, upscale restaurants and fine retailers, bustling nightlife—and BURN is in the center of it all. To create a physical space that reflects Patel’s supreme vision for his brand, all limits were forgotten or ignored. Rocky Patel’s passion for world travel is exemplified in the interior design. Elements of the décor are inspired by the cultural icons of Asia and the Mediterranean region, with a distinctive Cuban influence. Fine art pieces from Rocky’s personal travels around the world are prominently featured in tasteful, elegant displays showcasing internationally renowned artists in a variety of media, including woodworking and furniture, hand-blown glass, sculpture and other decorative arts.
The space is arranged to maximize the social aspects of the cigar culture, with a number of distinctive seating areas situated around low coffee-style tables, as well as high-top tables seating 10 or more. This arrangement encourages conversation and socialization while still maintaining easy access to the humidor, bar and the other entertainments offered in the lounge. The central room is large, more than 3,000 square feet, with an open, comfortable layout. Despite the richness and variety of the decoration, the room retains an approachable ambiance.
The central lounge room is anchored by the ornate bar forming the corner toward the rear left. The bar back is elegant and functional, but the shining gem of the room—quite literally—is the bar top itself. Crafted from semi-precious gemstones and natural quartz, the bar is illuminated from within by LED lighting, creating a warm, magical glow—and what’s behind the bar is just as impressive. The menu features a massive selection of spirits, including more than 60 single malt Scotches, and over 100 individual wines and champagnes. The full-service bar also offers a number of premium beers on tap, an excellent range of bourbons and other whiskeys, plus premium vodkas, gins, brandies and tequilas, along with a variety of fresh mixers, making nearly any cocktail you could think of come to life, and opening the door to a lifetime of exquisite cigar pairing opportunities.
Several glass-fronted cabinets in the lounge stock premium cigar accessories, including cigar cutters and lighters, humidors and ash trays from Rocky Patel and a number of other manufacturers of fine cigar items. On those warm Florida evenings, guests can enjoy two outdoor seating patios that, like the indoor areas, offer luxurious seating in large, comfortable chairs along with ornate fixtures and fine décor. A separate fully-stocked bar is also available for guests enjoying the outdoor areas.
HUMIDOR OF HIGH DEMAND
Situated to the right, opposite the bar in the central lounge area, is the impressive walk-in humidor, visible from the lounge through a striking, hand-cut glass partition of vibrant orange. Once inside the humidor, visitors would not be surprised to find the full line of Rocky Patel cigars in all sizes, with a massive inventory in stock, stacked to the ceiling. Demand is so high that at peak periods, the management reserves the right to limit purchases to 10 cigars of any one blend, excluding full-box purchases.
A favorite blend is the BURN by Rocky Patel cigar, originally sold exclusively at this location, but now available from fine cigar retailers nationwide. What may come as a surprise to some guests is that BURN also stocks cigars from a number of other important cigar manufacturers, including several that are exclusive to BURN. The humidor is fully paneled in natural wood, and the shelves and displays are Spanish cedar. With the warm Gulf air of the region, the ambient natural humidity frequently provides quite-close-to-perfect cigar storage conditions, but the conditions inside the humidor are carefully maintained by a state-of-the-art humidification system nonetheless.
A large portion of the wall space in the humidor is reserved for private lockers wherein members can store their own cigars under the humidor’s carefully controlled conditions. There are nearly 50 private lockers in two sizes, and the waiting list is substantial. Not only do locker members enjoy exclusive discounts and special purchases, they also receive invitations to a variety of members-only events, including cigar and spirits tastings, special release parties and others. Members also gain access to the exclusive V.I.P. area that offers premium seating in a beautifully decorated private lounge, divided from the main lounge area by a handsome colonnade clad in fine Jerusalem stone.
Beyond the beauty and luxury of the location and the variety of the products offered there, something else defines the BURN experience: service. BURN prides itself on having the most knowledgeable and informative staff in the region, carefully trained in cigar selection and with knowledge of the brands and blends in stock, nations of origin and makeup. Their knowledge helps both beginner cigar enthusiasts and experts to make informed purchasing decisions.
The staff is also highly skilled in the arts of beverage pairing and mixology, ensuring your supreme enjoyment and total satisfaction with your cigar and beverage selections.
With the right combination of location, décor, ambiance, style, sophistication and service, it’s no wonder that BURN quickly became a hotspot for nightlife and entertainment for both locals and out-of-town visitors. The local boating and golf communities make up a notable portion of the clientele, as do business and leisure travelers visiting the area. The lounge is open from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with Happy Hour from opening until 7 p.m. The calendar regularly features special cigar and spirits tasting events, nightly live entertainment, local DJs spinning modern music, corporate events and parties, and much more. Live cigar rolling is extremely popular, and the massive flat-panel TVs around the bar regularly show major national sporting events and regional teams. Most nights, though, the TVs aren’t the center of attention in the lounge—that distinction is generally held by the fine cigars, delicious drinks and lively interaction among the guests.
AN EXCITING FUTURE
The unqualified success of BURN by Rocky Patel in Naples will lead to the expansion of the concept to customers in a number of additional markets in the coming years. Plans are currently in the works for the next iteration of the BURN concept, destined for a legendary location perfectly suited to the brand, and one that will transplant the ultra-sophisticated destination cigar lounge concept into the epicenter of all things fun and exciting: Las Vegas. Las Vegas is already home to Casa Fuente, the notable and highly successful cigar lounge owned and operated by Patel’s friends and colleagues from Arturo Fuente cigars, and one can expect similar success for the next BURN location.
Looking beyond the immediate future and a possible location in the northeastern U.S., Patel also intends to expand his brand well beyond the U.S., with possible lounges in Berlin, Dubai and a number of possible locations in Asia. Regardless of the specific locale, one can expect the highest level of attention to detail in styling and service, along with exceptional quality products. Rocky Patel’s singular vision for his lounge has become an ultimate cigar destination in a region rich in cigar history and tradition.
Notwithstanding the future expansion of the BURN by Rocky Patel brand into nationwide and international markets, the Naples location will no doubt remain the flagship, a contemporary classic, the first and original. New locations will certainly continue to showcase the finest in modern luxury, premium cigars, fine spirits and exceptional service, but there is little question as to whether any new location could ever replace the Naples lounge as Rocky Patel’s personal favorite.
Rocky Patel cigars had their genesis in one man’s dream, and his BURN cigar lounge was born of that same ethic. With his dedication to quality, value and service, Rocky Patel has built a world-wide brand with an exceptional reputation. We can only expect any future BURN locations to not only fulfill, but exceed our wildest expectations.
Rick Rhay is a Southern California photographer and cigar lover, and occasional editor of the Cigar Sasquatch online journal at CigarSasquatch.com.