Minus 5 president Chris Ling tells GlobeSt.com the company cut afive-year deal for 4,000 sf and has been quietly building out thespace at a cost of $3 million, it's most expensive build out todate. A grand opening is scheduled for late September.

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"It's bigger and better than anything we've done before," Minus5 Group Operations Manager Anthony Leenders tells GlobeSt.com."It's our foundation for coming into the US market."

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Next up will be South Beach, where the company has secured asite, and New York City, where the company is about to close on alocation, Ling tells GlobeSt.com, declining to be more specificuntil the deal is done. Michael Townsend of Los Angeles-basedTownsend and Assoc. is the company's real estate broker for its USexpansion.

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"I've spent the last year and a half on New York City," Lingtells GlobeSt.com. "We had a site in NYC [previously] but decidedto let it go and now we've got another site, which we have almostclosed; we're just finishing the last of our due diligence."

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Named for the temperature of its lounges -- minus five degreesCelsius (approximately 23-degrees Fahrenheit) – the Minus 5 IceLounge is approximately 1,300 sf and indeed made of ice -- thewalls, the bar, the chairs, the glasses and, of course, thesculptures. The room is kept sub-freezing with the use ofrefrigerated wall panels hidden by the ice. As part of the show,guests are provided with winter gear -- sheepskin-lined parkas,gloves, and booties – to keep them comfortable.

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Next door is the "feeder bar" or "warm room," a similarly sizedbut heated establishment built out in an early 1900s Schakelton'sLodge theme where people can drink and eat snacks while awaitingtheir 30-minute, $30 dollar experience. The experience includes acomplimentary vodka drink – or a non-alcoholic drink -- and amaximum of three drinks because the cold temperature enhances theeffect of the alcohol and they don't want anyone a pretendingthey're in a hockey rink.

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The first Minus 5 Ice Lounge debuted in Auckland in 2002. Asecond one opened in Queenstown in 2003, followed by Sydney in2005, the Gold Coast in 2006, and Portugal earlier this year 2008.The Las Vegas location will be the first of many in the US. Inaddition to South Beach and New York City, Townsend is alsoscouting out a location in Los Angeles. Internationally in 2009,the company is headed to India, Singapore, Dubai and Manila.

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The ice sculptures and other fixtures are carved fromcrystalline ice from glaciers in Canada and then shipped to LasVegas where they are re-assembled on-site at Minus 5. The icecocktail glasses are made in New Zealand from pure spring water andshipped in their frozen form.

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Ling says Minus 5 spent more than two years developing andengineering its concept to ensure a comfortable, arid iceenvironment that involves no wind, wind chill or humidity insidethe ice lounge, which the company says is a rarity for attractionsof this nature.

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Kept cool with refrigerated panels, the Ice Lounges arerecreated every six- to eight weeks to keep things fresh, Lingsays--not that anything would spoil at minus five degreesCelsius.

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