STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Elin Nordegren Woods’ new home is so private that in winter you need a hydrocopter to reach it. Located on an island in the Stockholm archipelago, Tiger Woods’ wife’s new estate is surrounded by miles of ice.
Nordegren Woods paid $2.3 million for the estate, which includes a main house, three small guest houses, two outdoor storehouses, a private beach, a mini-harbor and a boathouse sauna.
She closed the deal with the help of twin sister Josefine Loennborg, a London lawyer, according to Swedish media. The idyllic 258,000-square-foot property, named “Faaglar Island Garden,” is located on Faaglar, which translates as “Bird,” Island. It went on the market in September, and Nordegren Woods closed on the purchase last week.
Paparazzi will not find it easy to visit Bird Island, accessible only by a two-hour ferry ride from Stockholm. The ferry travels once or twice a day only.
“In the winter time it only travels some three times a week,” said Urban Andersson, a neighbor, in a phone conversation.
The frigid Stockholm winter slows and freezes travel.
“When it is ice, the only way to get here is by hydrocopter,” Andersson said. A hydrocopter is an amphibious aircraft-propelled catamaran often used in arctic coastal regions during times of freeze and ice. “During the winter time, almost no one lives on the island,” he said.
(Update: Elin Nordegren Woods epitomizes the Swedish character, writes Marcus Oscarsson. But will her fame as Tiger Woods' wife allow her the privacy she craves in her native land?)
Elin Nordegren Woods grew up in Vaxholm, the small town near Bird Island. Vaxholm has a population of about 4,800 and can be reached from the Woods’ new home by ferry. In emergencies, the trip can be made by a 30-minute taxi boat ride — that is, when there is no ice.
Although the setting of the Woods’ new mansion is idyllic and exclusive, it requires renovations.
“Tiger and Elin have a lot to do before the house reaches a nice level. They took over the house as it was,” opined a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous. “If you ask me, they need to paint it both outside and inside. The interior can certainly be improved as well as the bathroom and the garden. It is all rusty and worn. But I guess they can afford it.”
Another neighbor said she worried the Woods would change the home into something much grander, and destroy the island’s picturesque style, but she was reassured by the real estate agent that would not happen.
“They do not plan to build new houses or to change the main building very much,” she said. “No, instead they will restore the house to its original style and keep the island the way it has always been. That is wonderful because that is exactly the kind of neighbors we appreciate.”
Like many small Swedish archipelago islands, Faaglar used to be owned by a single farmer. In the 1960s it was divided into 60 parcels. Most estates now include several houses, and there are some 200 houses on the island. The Woods’ new home is the farmer’s original house and sits on a cape with succulent grass growing between rocks. Old alders and oaks frame the garden.
“But there is almost a full view from neighboring houses,” said Andersson.
Windermere, Fla., where the Woods reside in the U.S., offers a different lifestyle than Faaglar Island.
“We have no stores whatsoever on our island. It takes a lot of planning when it comes to food and everything since it is an entire day’s work to go to the supermarket on the mainland,” a neighbor said.
Their jetty should be a great place to practice golf swings, though, and Tiger Woods can hit the balls right into the ocean. There are also two golf courses nearby: Aakerberga Golf Club, which is a fairly new club, founded 1991 and with 1,112 members, and Waxholms Golf Club, which was founded in 1989 and has 1,300 members. To join Waxholm, the better-known of the two, costs $2,800.
But it takes at least 45 minutes by boat and car to reach the course from the Woods' new home.
And talk about a lifestyle change: Indoor plumbing can only be used from May to October.
“The rest of the year we need to bring water from the public water pumps. It is very old fashioned and sometimes uncomfortable but also very cozy and cool,” said a neighbor. He added that some houses have private wells, but the rules on using those are strict.
“We are all urged to not use much water. If we use too much of the well’s water the island’s groundwater will be poisoned by salt water and all the estates will be automatically struck. The salt level of the water is measured and controlled often. This is a substantial issue on the island,” the neighbor said.
While the winters are calm on Faaglar Island, the summers bring a vivid tourist life to the island as the owners of the 60 estates arrive to spend their vacations. Swedes have a minimum of five weeks vacation every year and many have even more. The popular midsummer festivities, a soccer school, outdoor workout sessions, bird watching and flower walks attract the island population.
Some of the estates have been sold to rich Swedish celebrities, but many of the houses still belong to ordinary Stockholm families and retirees who bought them when the farmer sold his cows, divided the land and made a fortune.
The island has a legal association, Faaglar Island Common Land Association, of which all estate owners are automatic members. They are responsible for the main jetty, the roads and the water supply as well as the popular parties.
“Everybody is welcome here. In the summer time we have, for example, soccer school and midsummer festivities, and I hope the Woods family would like to participate in our summer activities,” said Stenaake Johansson, the association’s chairman.
Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify that the interviews were done on the telephone.