A Hollywood Holiday In The Arctic Circle | The Green Lane

By Jeremy Taylor

4 months ago

Inside the world of the ultra-elite


Where do harassed celebrities drive to escape selfie-obsessed fans? Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor and sustainable fashion expert Jessica Saunders discuss a Hollywood holiday in the Arctic Circle.

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O’Gara Coach: Inside An Exclusive Arctic Circle Holiday

Ice driving with O'Gara Coach

JT – Ever wondered where the great and good of Hollywood go driving to avoid the crowds?

JS – I thought most of them liked to be recognised, or is that just that Justin Bieber?

No, apparently, celebrity has changed in Los Angeles – the big names don’t want to be spotted driving a gas-guzzling luxury car.

Not even A-listers cruising down the Big Sur in an Aston Martin convertible, or movie moguls navigating a Rolls-Royce limousine though the premium suburbs of Westlake Village?

According to Hollywood’s most prestigious car dealership, nowadays the big-name actors want to travel under the radar. O’Gara Coach in Beverly Hills should know – it has clients that include American football star Tom Brady, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.

So, if discretion is the word, where do they go?

Well, twice a year, O’Gara offers customers a unique lifestyle adventure, specially curated for those who enjoy cars. I joined a six-day trip to the Arctic Circle with an exclusive party of 15 guests – including actors, business leaders and yacht brokers – all booked in for the drive of a lifetime, despite temperatures that dip as low as -37°C.

I seem to remember that part of Sweden is packed with snow, pine trees and not much else?

At 66° north, there are less than six hours of daylight in the bitter winter months. Yet people travel here from around the world for the chance to experience the breath-taking Northern Lights and get away from it all.

Driving the Audi RS3 on ice

Audi RS3

Seems a bit extreme, even for Hollywood types.

There is another good reason. Stig Blomqvist is a legendary figure in motorsport. A former World Rally Champion driving the ground-breaking Audi quattro, he won a string of titles, including his home event, the Swedish Rally, seven times. Now aged 77, the real ‘Stig’ runs his own ice-driving course on a frozen lake at Jokkmokk.

Nobody’s going to spot a celeb in all that winter gear! How did the Californians cope with snow and ice?

As I discovered, it doesn’t matter how good a driver you might think you are, learning to steer a car on ice is a steep and slippery learning curve. Power is nothing without control and the busiest person on the circuit is a man replacing the traffic cones that are frequently scattered in all directions.

Sounds like a very demanding ballet on ice, perhaps a new reality TV game show?

We were helped by warm-up interval breaks in a trackside hut. Fortified with reindeer stew and a roaring log fire, I trimmed my lap time down to just under three minutes. Meanwhile, septuagenarian Blomqvist was still passing the timer at under two minutes.

Did you stay anywhere nice?

Yes, tales of our ice-driving experiences were exchanged at the Arctic Bath – a floating hotel styled like a bird’s nest. In the centre is an open-air plunge pool to the freezing lake below, while the whole hotel is dedicated to wellness and eco-friendly health treatments.

The Arctic Bath

Arctic Bath

You slept on a frozen lake?

Guests stay in floating cabins connected to the lake shore by a pontoon walkway. The indigenous Sami food alone makes it worth a trip to the remote Lapland town of Harads. Moose and Arctic char are seasoned with cloudberries and lingonberries, while smoked butter on local gakkhu flatbread is decidedly moreish.

Is O’Gara planning more trips? Sounds like a chance to really get away from it all and enjoy an epic drive.

Yes, although I doubt any will be quite as cold. There is talk of a South American adventure and, of course, you don’t need Hollywood credentials or a massive Instagram following to sign up…

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Explore O’Gara Coach’s upcoming trips at ogaracoach.com