"We’re going to stick to the core of what we are, which is an ice lounge," says Minus 5 director of operations Noel Bowman. Come early-to-mid-February, Vegas can expect a bit of a cold front as a second Minus 5 Ice Lounge will open at the Monte Carlo in the space currently occupied by the Lance Burton Magic Shop and an MGM Mirage Players Club kiosk.
“Think of us as Madame Tussauds where you can drink alcohol,” says Bowman. The “boomerang-shaped” lounge will not feature a lodge bar like its older sister in the Mandalay Place shops, though it will carry over the take-away frozen drinks in souvenir yards and will be 300 square feet larger. “We're far more of an attraction than we are a bar."
From the outside, guests will be able to gaze through a regenerating ice wall at TV screens set inside. From there they will suit up in Minus 5’s gear including a parka, hat, mittens and booties to prepare guests for the 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius) temperatures and $100,000 worth of icicles, chandeliers and ice chaise lounge with faux animal skins.
A communal table and drink rails will make ample room for up to 110 guests (as opposed to just 65 at Mandalay Place) to drink vodka cocktails from ice cups made from New Zealand water. The 30-minute limit on staying in the cold environment was dropped shortly after the opening of the Mandalay Place location, allowing guests to spend some more time among the new ice statues of vintage Rat Packers. Still up in the air are the possibilities of an ice stripper pole and a fireplace.
But the Monte Carlo location isn’t the only one getting all the attention; the Mandalay Place installation is also getting a complete overhaul including a new bar and new ice carvings and statues.
Outside the new ice lounge experience—which is located, ironically, just around the corner from Diablo’s Cantina—is a burgeoning neighborhood of new restaurants like d.vino and the recently renovated Dragon Noodle Company and CosPlay Lounge. Bowman says the Monte Carlo is considering this new entertainment zone a “party pit,” like those found outside Pure at Caesars and elsewhere in town since that trend took off. If all goes according to plan, that area may soon welcome a new, circular, unmanned table games area waited on by hostesses, plus different lighting and music from the rest of the casino. Bowman imagines that ladies dressed as she-devils and snow bunnies will populate the pit for the additional 30,000 people anticipated to cross the casino floor once the CityCenter project is completely open.
"When I first saw it I was like, ‘convince me why I want to pay $25 to freeze my ass off,’” says Bowman, who was GM of RM Seafood across from the Mandalay Place location when it first opened—he quickly came around. Bowman, who has a background opening venues such as Outback Steakhouses, is the entrepreneurial type and saw an opportunity to expand the Minus 5 brand even further than its current six locations in four countries.
After the Monte Carlo, Bowman says there are three more locations on the way in Times Square, Los Angeles and Orlando. Las Vegas will be the first city to host two Minus 5 Ice Lounges, but then we should be used to the special treatment by now.