When Kirsten-Marie Holmen arrived with an idea for a new tour, she received the cold shoulder. Now she can return the favor – in a warm way.

 

Magic Ice, her novel ice gallery and bar created for visitors to Norway’s Lofoten Islands, has opened in St. Thomas sending chills to everyone who steps into the new attraction in downtown Charlotte Amalie.

“I scouted Grand Cayman and St. Maarten, but this is where I wanted to be,” says Holmen, who built a reputation in her native country opening Norway’s first ice bar and gallery north of the Arctic Circle in 2004. Four years later, Magic Ice hosted 30,000 visitors annually and was voted best attraction. Everything is made of crystal-clear ice. After investing $3 million, the same concept now debuts in St. Thomas.

“The biggest challenge was adjusting to ‘island time’" describes Holmen. “Everything just takes longer – construction, hiring employees, everything. We first planned to open in November, then December and finally now.”

Preparing for the grand opening, Holmen imported a team of 16 artists, skilled in sculpting ice in sub-zero conditions. Visitors dress in parkas and gloves as they enter reception at the harbor waterfront area. Once in suitable garb, guests are guided through the 10,000 square-foot facility, mostly a giant freezer. Overhead fans, like a meat locker, blow blizzard air.

Behold the statues of animals, pirates, and other figures – even a Viking long-boat, all made of ice and dramatically lit. Go ahead, sit on the bar stool made of ice and have a drink in an ice glass. Stay as long as you can endure the cold, then exit into the colorful gift shop, remove your jacket and do some shopping (expected in St. Thomas).

Magic Ice has an atmosphere that has to be experienced from the inside. "It is more than just an ice bar," says Holmen. "We depict a cultural connection between Scandinavia and St. Thomas. The island used to be Danish before the United States was involved." Beside originality, there is an educational component. After all, some people living in the Caribbean have never been in ice and snow.

One question crosses the mind of St. Thomas residents – what about the electric bill to keep the complex cold? “I budgeted $400,000 the first year,” she says. "Have you seen the electric bills in Norway?" That’s a chilling thought. But no worries – cruise lines have warmed up to selling this new tour.

St. Thomas received 1.9 million cruise passengers last year, much more than Norway. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line offers its guests the chance to experience a bit of the Arctic and taste an icy welcome drink for $54 per person. Walk-up price is less without transportation.

Magic Ice is located on the waterfront at 21 Dronningens Gade (340) 422-1581. Open daily 9:00am to 6:00pm

Article is written by Chris Roberts who is a freelance writer based in Hollywood, Florida.