Earlier this month, in the hills of Ontario’s Horseshoe Valley, dozens of Land Rovers descended on Defender House, a Nordic spa experience hosted by the British carmaker. Offering VIP guests a glimpse into the world of the adventurous Defender lifestyle, SHARP co-hosted style consultations, scotch whisky tastings, and a long weekend of fine dining dishes (including local venison medallions, Atlantic scallop crudo and liquid nitrogen ice cream) plated up alongside organic Canadian wines.
The experience celebrated the rugged reputation Defender has built up across the last four
decades. Because, since the marque first used this name for its iconic off-roader, the word has come to sturdily, staunchly stand for everything that makes pioneering and adventuring great. Defenders have rumbled their way to every corner of the earth within our lifetimes — from the world’s frozen poles, to the dunes and deep heat of the Sahara Desert. But Defender House, established on the edge of Oro-Medonte’s Copeland Forest, also introduced a touch of luxury to the proceedings.
The space perfectly captured the spirit of the car, with tough concrete sitting shoulder-to-
shoulder with vast expanses of panoramic glass and minimalist Scandinavian textiles. A daily
lunch service reimagined hearty, traditional fare for guests, and relaxing 60-minute massage
sessions were on offer. A hosted yoga, movement and sound session — specially designed to
immerse your body and mind using breathwork, meditation and sound bathing with quartz
crystal singing bowls — was a particular highlight. And attendees were even encouraged to
experience an authentic Finnish sauna.
At the nearby Boots & Hearts country music festival — just a hot stone’s throw from the spa at
Defender House — guests were also invited to test their off-roading skills on a track built by
Land Rover. Featuring water crossings, a log bridge, and several severe side tilts designed to
showcase the car’s all-terrain abilities, expert instructors marshalled drivers around the course.
The experience, once again, perfectly portrayed the unique dichotomy of the new Defender
(the latest iteration of the icon launched in 2019). Because this is a car as capable as it has
ever been (2023 models can wade to a depth of almost a metre, and have a departure angle of
35 degrees), but that now boasts lashings of luxury features, including an intuitive driver
display, 3D surround cameras and immersive Meridian surround sound.
At the off-road course — once the rocks had been crawled and the pond crossings conquered —
guests were chauffeured back to Boots & Hearts for a night of luxury and live music, where
they enjoyed performances from artists including Dallas Smith and Keith Urban. Several lucky
guests were even hosted at the festival campsite, staying the night in one of Land Rover’s
expertly engineered roof tents. Developed in conjunction with Autohome, the clamshell design
makes the tent easy to erect, and the built-in mattress promises the soundest of sleeps.
Mounted atop a Defender Trek Edition, it was also perhaps the perfect way to end a Defender-
focused weekend — with an experience that encapsulates the marque’s adventurous-but-luxurious nature.