Published: October 13, 2011
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ST. THOMAS - While most visitors to the Virgin Islands don swimsuits, T-shirts and floral shirts, a new attraction will require significantly more outerwear.
The Magic Ice Gallery is coming to St. Thomas.
The below-freezing sculpture showcase, which is scheduled to open Dec. 15, features a 9,257-square-foot room that will be kept at a chilly 25 degrees, said Kirsten Holmen, general manager and partner in Magic Ice Inc., which also operates a similar attraction in Norway.
Holmen said that the inside of the gallery will be filled with ice sculptures illuminated by LED lighting and an ice bar with stools made of ice.
Large blocks of ice will be sculpted into a variety of figures by skilled ice sculptors from around the world. Holmen said visitors are likely to see busts of Charlotte Amalie, well known pirates or other figures that emphasize the history of the region.
Sound, music and images will accompany tourists as they examine the gallery.
"And then, imagine, a huge ice bar, and maybe we will make it look like a shipwreck," Holmen said of the bar that will sit in the center of the gallery.
Visitors will arrive at the entrance of the Magic Ice Gallery facing the waterfront on Veterans Drive. The building is across the alley from Pizza Hut and fills a space between its storefront and its Main Street exit.
Upon entering, visitors will be given warm clothing to wear during the tour. Holmen said she expects most visitors to spend about a half hour to an hour in the gallery. A drink at the bar and a souvenir glass come with the excursion's cost of $32.
Locals will receive a reduced rate, she said.
Because of the large space, Holmen said, the bar could accommodate 500 to 600 people an hour.
Holmen said she is aware of the high cost of power in the territory and estimates the attraction's electricity bill will be between $300,000 and $400,000 per year. The ice will be safeguarded against frequent power outages by generator power, she said.
Holmen, who brought the idea from Norway to the Virgin Islands after discussions with Royal Caribbean cruise lines and others, said the decision to base the attraction on St. Thomas as opposed to other Caribbean islands, came largely because of the quick response of government officials, including Gov. John deJongh Jr., coupled with market research.
Then, upon her first visit, Holmen saw some similar street names and decided she had found a home for her new business.
Her other business, located in Norway, is also on Dronningens Gade.
"The first time I came in on a ship, it was like I was coming to my home," she said. "I sent an email to deJongh. He was so quick to respond compared to the other governors. All the street names here are the same as the names at home where I live. I had no doubt."
The business will employ 15-20 workers, she said, and is holding a job fair on Saturday. People interested in working at the gallery can stop by the Windward Passage Hotel at 9 a.m.
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