With the Shepherd Hotel in Clemson opening this week and allowing its first guests to stay overnight, co-founder Rick Hayduk says this hotel could not have been built without divine intervention.
The founding story of the Shepherd Hotel
As the first hotel located in downtown Clemson, founders Rich Davies and Rich Hayduk believe the Shepherd Hotel will fill a need for the community, providing a place to stay for people visiting Clemson, students’ parents, sports fans, or those interested in attending the school, as it is a 9-minute walk to the admissions office for campus tours. Five minutes is all it takes to walk to other parts of campus, like Bowman Field and Sikes Hall.
Davies, a Clemson alumnus, believes the hotel fills a desire for those needing a place to stay while visiting the school. As President and CEO of Pavilion Development Company, he notes that with valet parking, guests will not need their car for the rest of their stay as everything they need is within walking distance.
Pavilion Development Company, the developer behind the project, was established by Davies in 1997 and has developed several commercial properties across the country.
“We are so grateful to our partners whose passion aligns with ours,” Davies said.
“More than just a luxury hotel”
But, providing a place to stay is not the only way this hotel aims to aid the community. More than 20% of the hotel’s staff comes from ClemsonLIFE, a collegiate program offered to young students with intellectual disabilities that helps prepare them for independence with employment and living by themselves.
Hayduk has worked in the hotel industry since 1986, and shared his idea to connect his passions of bringing a luxury hotel to downtown Clemson and providing a place to train and employ individuals with intellectual disabilities.
The idea for the hotel and the partnership with ClemsonLIFE originally came to Hayduk after his daughter, diagnosed with Down syndrome, aspired to be in the hospitality industry like her father. With Hayduk’s oldest daughter attending Clemson, he became familiar with the ClemsonLIFE program and later met directors for the program, who were eager for the project and what it represented.
In 2015, on the same day Hayduk shared his idea with Davies, they walked to a Clemson football game. Davies pointed out the property, then a bank, and said this is where their hotel would be.
“We are so excited to welcome the Clemson community to the Shepherd Hotel for a truly remarkable experience. This is more than a luxury hotel. It is a life-changing opportunity for individuals with special abilities to train and work in the hotel and restaurant while helping them further their skills obtained through the ClemsonLIFE program,” Hayduk said.
About the Shepherd Hotel
The six story hotel sits between College Avenue and Sloan Street and includes 67 rooms. The hotel also offers the Delish Sisters Restaurant on the ground floor and the Thomas Bar on the third floor. An outdoor terrace and a rooftop event space represents the highest point of downtown Clemson.
Amenities include luxury mattresses and toppers, plush bathrobes, sleep sound machines, Samsung Smart TVs, and digital locking safes. Rates vary from $149 to $329, depending on the room.
Throughout the hotel, you can find subtle nods towards Clemson. Davies stated he did not want any orange or purple, as he assumes guests will be sporting those colors already. Instead, the hotel has paintings that represent Clemson, like a painting of a satellite image of Clemson, which are all created by ClemsonLIFE students.