Off To Russia For C.A.O.
Since opening in 1820, the Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg, Russia, has hosted many distinguished guests, including Tchaikovsky, Elton John and former President Bill Clinton. Tonight, the renowned hotel in Russia's cultural epicenter will get a taste of some distinguished members of the cigar world when the Cigar Smoker's Society and C.A.O. International Inc. host the "Unforgettable Cigar Evening."
Founded by Elmar Grief, the general manager of the Grand Hotel Europe, Jack Melkonian, a cuban cigar manufacturer, and Arsen Gasparian, the publisher of a Russian cigar magazine called Hecho A Mano, the Cigar Smoker's Society caters to elite members of Russia's cigar-smoking class. The guest of honor at this year's annual dinner is Tim Ozgener, vice president of C.A.O., who flew to Russia after attending Cigar Aficionado's Night to Remember dinner on April 1.
"We are honored to be a part of this very special cigar dinner," said Ozgener. "I am equally excited about the opportunity to bring the world of C.A.O. to our friends in Russia."
For Ozgener and C.A.O., which will be supplying various C.A.O. brands for the dinner, including Brazilias, Cameroons, Maduros and Golds, the trip is a chance to bring added recognition to their cigars, which are already sold in the country. C.A.O. began selling cuban cigars in Russia in March, 2002.
"We were always interested in exploring that market," said Ozgener, "and we had a very good response. I think a lot of the success C.A.O. has had in Russia so far has been the combination of our packaging and the way our cigars taste. Russians enjoy being fashionable, and hearty, bold flavors. We give them both."
After tonight's dinner, Ozgener will stop in Moscow on April 8, when he will host a V.I.P.-only C.A.O. and Louis Royer Cognac Dinner.
Sunday, April 04, 2004