Bombay Showcase

Luxe thrills in Lonavala’s hills

In the monsoons, everyone in the city has to make a Lonavala trip. But there’s got to be a better way to escape the horridly jam-packed Bhushi Dam madness. In fact, what about a luxe way to enjoy the outdoors in this superb weather? We’ve done the homework and here are two great adventure resorts with a bevy of activities that will make that trip worthwhile.

Aamby adventure isn’t for namby-pambies!

The Aamby Valley Resort, owned by the Sahara group, started off as a 10,600-acre purely private and residential city with 91 per cent open spaces. Of late, they’ve thrown it open to the paying public as a plush getaway.

The luxe factor: We already knew they have a British PGA-approved (Professional Golfers' Association) 18-hole floodlit championship golf course spread over 256 acres; purportedly the ‘World's Tallest Multimedia Fountain Show’ called The Fountain of Fortune; a Kerala Ayurvedic centre and a FootSPA; a riding school; and angling opportunities. Then there are the Aussie rooms, picturesque pinewood villas. The resort’s ten speciality restaurants includes the architecturally stunning Namak with superb Indian food, while Mabruk has Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisine spiced up with a beautiful belly dancer. But on a recent visit over a rain-drenched weekend, we discovered Aamby’s adventurous side.

Rating: Four stars

The X factor: The creator of the adventure sports facility, 19 Degree North (which lies on the on the periphery of the gorgeous gated city) Akshay Sharma is a self-confessed adrenalin junkie. He’s regularly cooking up new ways to tempt the thrill-seekers. Adventure lovers have everything including paintball, rappelling, rock-climbing, a zip-line over a lake, zorbing and reverse bungee. But the absolutely exhilarating feature of 19 Degree North is the jungle safari in a 4X4 off-roading vehicle. With Sharma at the wheel, and our hearts in our mouth, we hurtled up and down the mucky mountain roads and enjoyed what our dare-devil driver jovially called a ‘mud bath’ as he drove right through giant puddles. It’s a super-charged way to get to their camp site, where two can share a well-appointed Wilderness Cottage for Rs 15,000 a night, inclusive of all meals and access to all the adventure sports. They also organise guided treks into the lush forests around the campsite, which are owned and cared for by Aamby.

Another unique feature at Aamby is their Wetlands, wholly dedicated to water-sports and aqua-based activities. Think banana boats, luxury cruises and jet skis. And then there’s the amphibian Aqua Bus that gives you the grand tour of Aamby by land and then smoothly slips into the lake to become a boat. The highlight of the Wetlands activities is the adrenalin-fuelled Jet Boat Extreme experience, involving skilful manoeuvring of the large boat at high speeds by the pilot while the passengers get thrown about like rag dolls or dunked under huge waves. Also, their fantastic waterfall safari is great for a rainy day. It includes a guided trek that takes you over quivering bridges and jungle paths to three different natural waterfalls that are as clean as the environment around them is green.

Rating: Five stars

On offer is the ‘Mesmerizing Monsoon’ package, priced at Rs. 35,000 for a stay in a Spanish Cottage, including buffet or sumptuous thaali meals, any two adventure activities at 19 Degree North, any two water sports at the Wetlands, 30 minutes in the wave pool, unlimited time in the swimming pool, and the Waterfall Safari for two. Kids, upgrades and taxes extra. Call 022-39807444.

Do you dare to Della?

Della Adventure Park and Luxury Resorts offers beautifully constructed villas as weekend homes. But, more than that, it’s pegged as ‘India’s largest extreme adventure park’. With more than 70 activities spread over 43 acres, it’s certainly more than most can handle over a single weekend!

The luxe factor: MD and chief designer Jimmy Mistry certainly brings a gorgeous design aesthetic to the sumptuous space. The five fab restaurants includes Café 24 (which manages to execute a high standard of fine-dining Indian, Oriental and Continental), the very vegetarian Crème Della, and the unique Parsi Dhaba. The same attention to detail extends across all their bars, lounges and nightclub, the bakery, 24-hour spa and multiple swimming pools. Off note is the sheer opulence of the Luxury Resort room with a 140 sq ft bath area, whose best feature, was the Jacuzzi bath-tub with a heated chromatherapy back. Just perfect for unwinding with a drink and the telly after a rough day of high-adrenalin adventure!

Rating: Five stars

The X factor: The activities are divided into six zones and offer varying levels of scream quotient. There’s the 1,250-foot zip line (termed the Longest Flying Fox), a thrilling ride with a view of the entire property and surrounding hills. Then there’s the hundred-foot long Swoop Swing and the Rocket Ejector which shoots you four-and-a-half storeys high. ATV or quad rides (right up to a heavy-duty 700 CC Yamaha Raptor!) and Motocross Dirt will let you get up close and personal with the monsoon mud. On the other hand, paintball, archery, rock-climbing and a plethora of rope-and-bridge ensembles are super for corporate team-building activities. Young kids will love the horse rides (rather tame) and milking the Jersey cows, while the older ones also enjoy zorbing through water (Aqua Zorb) and the gamut of balancing boards and transport gadgets – gyros, hoverboards, Segways, and Trikkes. When the weather gets too bad to be out, there’s a big indoor gaming section and even a flight simulator. Della’s also presenting patrons local colour by offering a guided 13-km trek to Rajmachi Fort through the lush Sahyadri forests. With phews leading to oohs over the spectacular views, that’s another way to get your blood racing this monsoon.

Rating: Four stars

Della’s Camp Rooms are actually luxury AC tents on the top of the hill priced at approximately Rs 12,110 plus taxes. Luxury Resort Rooms with King or Twin Beds cost Rs 13,200 plus taxes per night. The Jumbo Pass for Rs 4,999 per person gives you access to every single activity (some are subject to age and weight limits), while a Day Pass costs adults Rs 1,750 and children and senior citizens Rs 1,250, both exclusive of taxes). Call 1800 3070 5050 or check for more information.

The author is a freelance writer.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 1:04:17 PM |

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