NASSAU, Bahamas -- The 14-room Graycliff Hotel, a fixture in Old Nassau across from Government House, is expanding its guest room count, restaurant facilities, menus and cigar offerings for the winter season.

The property dates from 1740 and was originally built as the private residence of Capt. John Howard Graysmith, a wealthy pirate. It later functioned as a guesthouse in the mid-1800s. In the early 1900s, the property was bought by Polly Leach, who ran Graycliff as a small hotel and restaurant. It was frequented by gangster Al Capone, among others.

Enrico and Anna Maria Garzaroli, the current owners, bought Graycliff in 1974. Their $4 million renovation project includes eight new guest rooms and a restaurant called Humidor in a building adjacent to the main mansion.

ImageCigars have been a staple at Graycliff and will be even more so once the renovations are complete. The Graycliff Cigar Co., temporarily housed behind the main house, will relocate to larger quarters on the parlor floor of the mansion. Restaurant and hotel guests will be able to view the art of cigar rolling by 14 Cuban cigar rollers as well as buy the Graycliff products and enroll in a cigar-making school on the premises.

Enrico Garzaroli opened a separate shop several years ago near Graycliff's entrance, where Cuban cigars and products are sold. That shop, which will be renamed La Casa del Habano, will sell only Cuban cigars as well as an array of related cigar items. Garzaroli said that a limited number of specially designed millennium humidors containing 150 Cuban cigars will be auctioned at a cigar dinner at Graycliff in November 1999.

In addition to cigars, Graycliff also is well known for its wine cellar, which contains more than 230,000 bottles from France and 14 other countries. The collection, which is overseen by son Paolo Garzaroli, includes a bottle of Spanish wine with a label drawn by Marc Chagall and a bottle of port bottled in 1779. A German wine called Rudesheimer Apostelwein, dated 1727, is reportedly the oldest certified bottle of wine on record. The younger Garzaroli said Graycliff paid $35,000 for the bottle 10 years ago. "A bottle of wine can average $150 at our restaurant, but customers can also order wine by the glass for $6," he said.

Graycliff's restaurant serves lunch on weekdays and dinner seven nights a week.

Hotel guests receive daily breakfast and can order from room service; each room also has a minibar. Graycliff has eight guest rooms in the main house and six garden suites grouped around a pool on the grounds. The expansion calls for eight new rooms in an adjacent historical building that dates from 1830. Special touches include hand-tiled floors and the use of local artwork and crafts in the rooms. The new Humidor restaurant will feature local cuisine on both a la carte and price-fixed tasting menus. Each course will be accompanied by a specific cigar and wine.

Although the target date for completion of the expansion project originally was set for December, Enrico Garzaroli said the restaurant may open sometime this fall. Also being added are two more pools, a hair stylist and the new cigar school.

"Guests will now be able to eat, sleep, smoke, drink and make cigars at Graycliff," Garzaroli said. At some point, Garzaroli envisions actually growing tobacco on his property.

Rates this winter, including prices for the new units, range from $210 to $365 per room, per night, double.

Graycliff, Phone: (800) 688-0076, E-mail: [email protected], Web: www.graycliff.com

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