The Minus5 Ice Experience at Monte Carlo is 1,200 square feet of intricately detailed ice. There are four locations around the country, but there’s only one ice sculptor making the experience as unique as it can be.
Kurt Herbolsheimer wasn’t always a master of ice. He began as a chef, and in his teenage years he owned a catering company. The inspiration to change careers came from renowned ice sculptor Michael Pizzuto, who was dating Herbolsheimer’s high school culinary class instructor and performed a live demonstration for the students. A couple years later, Herbolsheimer created ice sculptures for Pizzuto’s wedding.
“Ice can always be anything,” he says. “You’re only limited by your imagination. [Ice is] very forgiving but can be very temperamental as well. ... It’s very ephemeral, constantly changing.”
In 2014, Herbolsheimer joined Minus5; he currently manages the Monte Carlo property. Each year, he single-handedly renovates all four locations—it’s also at Mandalay Bay, in New York City and in Pointe Orlando, Florida—with entirely new sections and themes. The current Alaskan wilderness theme at Monte Carlo, which he finished installing in August, includes an igloo bar, an 8-foot totem pole and a sculpted bear catching a real salmon encapsulated in ice.
While Minus5’s patrons revel in his frozen creations, Herbolsheimer feels content with the praise from just one person—his 21-year-old daughter. “A bunch of the girls at her school said her dad has the coolest job in the world. It was the most popular topic on campus for a while,” he says with a laugh.