Located in the deep forests of Lonavala in the state of Maharashtra in India, D.A.T.A. glamping resort by Della Adventures offers the best of luxury coupled with tranquility as well as exhilarating activities like never before. The resort is nestled between a horseshoe-like formation of the mountains with the beautiful Shirota dam in the front. D.A.T.A is a relatively new venture with three years under its belt but has a unique aspect that makes it genuinely exemplary.
Post the horrific 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, the founder of Della Group, Mr. Jimmy Mistry, militarily conceptualized this glamping resort to provide military-style training to civilians to defend themselves in life-threatening situations like the 26/11 and any other calamity. “D.A.T.A. was created straight out of my dreams into reality conceptualized as a tribute, in memory of every single innocent life taken by the terrorists.”, said Mr. Mistry. D.A.T.A. Resort was crafted in order to honor their memory and offer guests a life-changing, eye-opening, yet exciting insight into the lives of the Indian Army.
The military feels begin way before the entry to the resort; post the check-in procedure at Della Resorts, a 4×4 jeep escorts us to a lakefront in a rather bumpy ride. The 20 minute that is described generally with adjectives like uncomfortable, unpleasant, and the-road-needs-repair felt much more like the teaser of what lay ahead – (or what the armed forces face). From there, if the dam is adequately filled, one boards the speedboat and gets down on the other side. When I visited the property, the dam wasn’t at its optimum level; hence, I had to hike to the property; however, the monsoons made it rather pleasant and scenic.
A Marshal with horses guides every welcome at the resort; I was then taken to the Sarva Dharma Stal, a shrine dedicated to every religion – a staple in every Army camp. The resort uses large containers perched upon each other for its restaurants, spas, and activity dorms alongside 26 tents. The property also houses stables and dog houses, and a swimming pool beside the Gurkha Lounge. The best part about D.A.T.A is the detachment from the outer world with no cell coverage yet be so aware of the worldly happenings and activities.
I received a warm welcome from Mr. Vaibhav, the resort manager of D.A.T.A., who further directed me to my tent, and showed me around the property. I especially loved the minute nuances like rifles as handles to the restaurant, auditorium and other entrances, grenades as salt and pepper shakers, cut-outs of guns and rifles for the buffet partition at the restaurant, and more make you admire the imagination and attention to detail of the designer.
D.A.T.A consists of 26 tents spread out throughout the resort. Every tent is less of a tent and more of a suite. With two queen-size beds, a minibar, a sizeable television, every suite has the best of the luxury amenities one can imagine. The suites, too, had a touch of the military going on with a neutral color palette for the interiors, grenade-shaped coffee mugs, and even doorknobs. The bathroom has a jacuzzi, a steaming and shower room, and standard luxury bathroom amenities. If you aren’t into the activities and other sessions, the D.A.T.A. glamping resort also makes up for a beautiful scenic and tranquil getaway to lounge and rejuvenate.
The Restaurant – Salaam Manekshaw
Another set of rifles and a horse welcome you to the only restaurant of the resort. The restaurant is located on the first level, titled Salaam Manekshaw (Salute to you Manekshaw) after India’s First Field Marshal. A myriad of photographs on an Army green background makes you feel like entering a cantonment canteen. There are also two Royal Enfields placed at the entry. The restaurants have giant windows that overlook the property, thus giving you a good view while you have your meals. On the right are numerous images of the various regiments of India; on the left has the life of Mr. Manekshaw through video and pictures.
I was well serviced by the team at Salaam Manekshaw, consisting of Dharamraj, Ashish, and Sameen. Salaam Manekshaw offers a plethora of cuisines and drinks to choose from. My personal favorite was Crumb Fried Chicken, Murg Musallam, and Mushroom tikka, for deserts, Blueberry cheesecake, and every Indian sweet on the menu. The Wildlife Kingdom mocktail soon became a staple for me through the trip. The breakfast spread was elaborate and fresh. Despite the logistical difficulties, D.A.T.A. leaves no stone unturned to offer a luxe experience.
Activities to try
This glamping resort has a one-of-a-kind military theme. Given the mission, the resort has partnered with the veterans of the armed forces to create a program that truly allows one to understand and assimilate the military and the importance of survival skills. The Training Team is composed of Special Operations Veterans from the National Security Guard (Black Cats), Army Special Forces (S.F.), Marine Commandos (Marcos), and seasoned Army Instructors. Mr. Mistry recommended going for the Hell Night and 22-obstacle course.
My program started with a briefing session by Retd. Lt. Col. Milind Patwardhan talked me through the program’s inception, process, and design as an exercise that improves not only survival skills but also a team-building process. I personally enjoyed Hell Night – a two-hour journey through the nearby forest where I was taught various ways to survive the woods. From navigation to cooking food Bear Grylls style, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The 22-obstacle course was another enthralling experience, where we were guided to react, tackle and escape various natural and artificial calamities. Conducted by Marcos Commando Vikram Pujala, the entire obstacle course was exciting and overwhelming at the same time. One can also opt for other activities, including one-on-one defense classes, Yoga sessions, team building activities.
Conversing the planet
The city of Lonavala has regulated waste management, Della Adventures take it a step further. The property keeps smaller plastic bottles at the restaurants while providing larger ones at the suite to mitigate water wastage. Similarly, the property has designed its own system to treat biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, making them environmentally conscious.
For me, the only flaw of the trip was the two-hour wait for the car towards the end; however, given that the situation isn’t a regular occurrence for most patrons, D.A.T.A Glamping Resort is flawless, to say the least. The resort is the perfect holiday to experience the best of hospitality and luxury coupled with some fun activities. Worth several visits!