Grande Lakes Orlando, comprised of The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando, has added the ancient sport of Falconry to the Grande Lakes Sports offerings.
Falconry, which focuses on the pursuit of wild game in its natural habitat by flying a trained bird of prey, is one of the world’s oldest traditions, and Grande Lakes Orlando is taking a closer look at the practice by inviting guests to partake in the experience firsthand.
Resort guests can choose from two different Falconry programs—Falconry School and Walk with a Hawk.
• Falconry School is an introduction to the ancient art of Falconry, where participants learn about the history of the sport, rules and regulations, traditional and modern equipment, species identification, biology, training, and historical applications. This program includes light audience interaction and participants can hold the birds for photos. Classes typically last one hour, pending group size. Pricing is $250 per person for up to 5 people, and $1,500 for groups of six to 50 people.
• Walk with a Hawk begins with a short introduction to Falconry, followed by engaging bird interactions. The birds will follow attendees in the trees and then fly down when called. Due to the intimate nature of the activity, this experience is limited to smaller groups or individuals and affords plenty of photo and video moments as guests practice being the Falconer. This activity typically lasts about an hour to an hour and a half depending upon group size and is priced at $300 per person.
“We’re thrilled to take our Grande Lakes Sports hub to the next echelon of guest experiences through the addition of Falconry,” said Jon McGavin, area general manager, Grande Lakes Orlando. “Falconry has a storied history, and our vast landscape lends itself perfectly to its storytelling through engaging and immersive offerings.”
Master Falconer, Terry Arndt, will lead Falconry School; he is the only instructor in the state of Florida with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Falconry Education permit.
Falconry is the fifth installment of Grande Lakes Sports, following in the footsteps of other guest offerings including eco-tours, sunrise safari, fishing excursions on Shingle Creek, and mountain biking along the Hidden Lake Bike Path.
The 500-acre Grande Lakes Orlando estate features a 582-room Ritz-Carlton and 1,000- room JW Marriott hotel situated at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. Guests at each hotel have access to all the facilities and services at Grande Lakes Orlando, including a Greg Norman-designed championship golf course and the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa, as well as three pools, including the winding lazy river at JW Marriott. Dining options feature the culinary mastery of James Beard award-winning chefs Norman Van Aken with Norman’s at The Ritz-Carlton and Melissa Kelly with PRIMO at JW Marriott, a leader in the city’s farm-to-fork movement. Furthering this farm-to-fork commitment are the on-site apiaries and 18,000- square-foot Whisper Creek Farm.
Photo: Grande Lakes Orlando