Smoke engulfs the plush leather couches like dense shipyard fog wraps around its humbled vessels. Stained oak tables compliment the regal hues of top shelf whisky while diamond laden watches sparkle in the dimly lit lounge. The conversation flows effortlessly, skipping along themes of venture capitalism, foreign land acquisition, gender roles and the questionable merits of imperialism. Sinatra croons. We are guests for the evening at Club Perdomo, a private cigar lounge and bar tucked away on Sukhumvit Soi 28.
Its not hard to see why Club Perdomo’s 60-some members like to keep this place to themselves. Club Perdomo is so baller that they don’t advertise or even actively look for members, and this has worked quite well for the organization. Exclusivity breeds desire and limited supply leads to high demand. Annual fees pay for all their expenses, and because you have to be asked to become a member by a current member, the club ensures it will always have a convivial atmosphere. Club Perdomo also states that the club is “for those who know, those who are decisive”. We are wondering if any Thai Government officials are members.
There are only a handful of private clubs in Bangkok, but Hillman Lentz, one of the owners of Perdomo, doesn’t feel he has any competition because of Club Perdomo’s exclusiveness, plus the intimate atmosphere is a rarity in a city full of business models built for the masses. “Other clubs you have to pay for a lot of extras,” said Tim Hansen, a member from Saigon. “Here the relationship is such that if you ever need anything, a member will be able to find it for you.” We assume Tim is talking about Italian White Alba Truffles, a Bengal Cat or decent Mexican food – all rarities. If you are privileged enough to be asked to become a member, there is a $5,000 initial fee and an annual fee of $1,000 after that.
Women aren’t forbidden as members, as there are two of them, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many here except as employees. When pressed about the lopsided male to female ratio Lentz explained that other members don’t want to change the ethos of the club and that means keeping romantic relationships at bay. When wives and girlfriends come, the members are more concerned about entertaining their significant others and tend to limit their socialization with other guests. And if a member is bold enough to bring a first date to the club it’s historically been recipe for disaster.
The Cigars: Perdomo is a brand of cigar from Nicaragua, and the club is so named because Lentz is the distributor for Asia-Pacific. Cuba will always capture the imagination and likely be the first choice for cigar aficionados, but Lentz was so astounded when someone introduced him to Perdomo, he got the rights to Asia with the idea he would sell them to a retailer in Singapore for a fee. The retailer asked their head office for permission and was told, “Anything but Perdomo; it will cannibalize our sales.” This opened Lentz’s eyes to the potential of the brand in the region and thus Club Perdomo was born.
As we have hopefully summarized above, Club Perdomo aims to be Bangkok’s version of the infamous Bohemian Club. Inquire among your well-heeled friends about obtaining a guest invitation for a relaxed evening with engaging conversation.
Location: 3/1 Sukhumvit Soi 28, just past the condo on the left side of the street.
Mass Transit: BTS Phrom Phong
Hours: Roughly 5 pm – close.