Nestled deep in the woods of the Sahyadri Range, Della Adventure Training Academy (D.A.T.A) by the Della Group is a one-of-its-kind military themed luxury camping resort aiming to converge military self-defence awareness with exuberant hospitality. Akshay Nayak checks out the design elements that make it an experiential hospitality product
World over, international hospitality companies vouch on providing money-can’t-buy experiences to their patrons by increasingly striving to thin out the predominant line distinguishing “in-house” and “outside of the hotel” experiences. One such element that enlivens the spirit of the hotel/resort are the sleek brushes of design, inevitably kindling a “tale to tell” in every inch, from artefacts to installations.
Not restricting only to the hospitality industry, design plays a crucial role in defence for various activities. Right from natural navigation techniques by locating constellations, to sending SOS alerts seeking help using design, to formation of sublime regiments at national events, etc.
Marrying the application of design in hospitality with defence, Jimmy Mistry, chairman & MD, Della Group, conceptualised the country’s maiden military-themed glamorous camping resort – Della Adventure Training Academy (D.A.T.A) in Lonavla, Maharashtra.
After what he had faced during his brief visit to The Taj Hotel in Mumbai just a few hours ahead of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, Mistry had one aim – to keep the citizens of the country informed and trained to deal with any unforeseen natural/man-made crises like terrorism. The resort pays homage to the martyred soldiers of the country and offers self-defence training to the guests at D.A.T.A.
Luxury amidst the woods
Nestled deep into the woods of Sahyadri Range, D.A.T.A is an hour-long dirt track drive from Della Resorts in jeeps with military camouflage, giving guests a feel of the experience that awaits them. This is followed by a 10-minute pontoon ride across the Shirota lake, manned by retired Indian Army personnel. On arrival, there is a welcome by horse salute and a memorial service for martyrs. Each villa in the 27-villa property offers best-in-class amenities with a hint of military-themed artefacts placed throughout.
Showcasing glass table tops resting on machine gun replicas, to the artificial bullhead taxidermy and grenade-style doorknobs, a villa at D.A.T.A can accommodate four pax and comes equipped with a jacuzzi pool and twin king-sized beds, ensuring absolute opulence.
Keeping in mind the nitty-gritty of the military touch while ensuring sustainability in the property, D.A.T.A is built by refurbishing cargo containers stacked and designed to blend in with the backdrop of mountains and forests. Salaam Manekshaw – the multi-cuisine restaurant at the resort named after India’s famous field marshal, has pictures from Indian Army’s various regiments across the walls. Chef Shahnawaz, heading the culinary operations at D.A.T.A ensures that the guest’s tastebuds are satisfied, be it over the Indian succulent fish preparations in the night, or the wholesome Continental breakfast in the morning. The guests can also keep gazing at the stars while immersing in the outdoor pool right under the sky, or watch the chefs preparing dishes live from the Gurkha Lounge next to the souvenir store and spa. Ideal for corporate events, D.A.T.A offers an indoor banquet space – Maratha, which too comes equipped with modern equipment.
The military obstacle course in the property along with the team of Lt. General Raymond Noronha (Retd.) – past Chief of Staff Southern Command and Col. Milind Patwardhan, take the centrestage wherein men of valour from the various defence verticals, who served for the country, share real-life experiences and techniques with guests to prepare them for unforeseen calamities.
The team of these experts ensures that each guest returns with dynamic learning about survival, endurance in extreme conditions and a sense of patriotism deeply embedded in their psyche. For this, they have devised interesting activities like Hell Night, nature walk, flag hoisting ceremony, knowledge sessions, and obstacle course drill. The Hell Night includes practical sessions of locating directions with the help of heavenly bodies like the Sun, Moon, Constellations, etc.
“We also train the guests for survival like identifying edible and non-edible flora and fauna in the woods, creating SOS signs using fire lit in a particular design/ pattern, etc. Flag hoisting every morning, with the guests dressed up in uniform in itself kindles a sense of patriotism in them. The obstacle course is thoughtfully planned to get the guests accustomed to how to put their muscles to do the thinking subconsciously when faced with any situation,” informed Col. Patwardhan.
Bringing many other experiences such as designing special types of knots using battle ropes for various rescue operations, to creating makeshift containers and cooking vessels from bamboo, the men of action at D.A.T.A ensure that ‘design’ as a keyword is exuded in its best iteration at every nodal point of the guest experience.
The rightful convergence of military skills with opulent hospitality, based on design as the tasteful element makes D.A.T.A an ensemble of the country’s one-of-its-kind experiential hospitality product.