CLEMSON, S.C. — The Shepherd Hotel has opened its doors in downtown Clemson, offering guests a unique experience in luxury hospitality. The six-story white brick building nestled between College Avenue and Sloan Street has created buzz for months leading up to its opening, thanks to its enticing restaurant Delish Sisters and glimpses into the hotel’s inviting lobby featuring a grand spiral staircase. But what makes the Shepherd Hotel special is those who work there.
A joint vision brought to life by Rich Davies and Rick Hayduk, the Shepherd Hotel is a place that welcomes people with intellectual disabilities to their team. More than 20% of the hotel’s staff comes from ClemsonLIFE, a nationally recognized collegiate academic program Clemson University offers to young men and women with intellectual disabilities to prepare them for competitive employment and independent living. These associates can be found welcoming guests in the hotel lobby, serving in the Delish Sisters restaurant, working in the kitchen, and maintaining guest rooms and public areas.
“We are so excited to welcome the Clemson community to the Shepherd Hotel for a truly remarkable experience,” said Rick Hayduk, co-founder of Shepherd Hotels. “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. Our hope is that guests are inspired by our entire team and realize the value, work ethic and heart for hospitality shown by this incredibly special group of people.”
Buying into the mission-oriented vision of the hotel’s founders, several organizations partnered with the founders to help bring the hotel to life, including First Horizon Bank, who supported the project during the hard-hitting financial times surrounding the pandemic.
Other partners include:
• Above Property
• Commercial Lighting Industries
• Cuisine Solutions (CREA)
• Fortress Security
• Hospitality Kitchen Design
• Interior Image Group
• JR United Textiles
• Laurent Bortoluzzi
• Mashburn Construction
• Middleby Corporation
• Mitsubishi Electric Trane
• Pavilion Development Co.
• Plumb Line Services
• SC Steel
• Velocity Managed Services
• Viscosoft Mattresses
“We are so grateful to our partners whose passion aligns with ours,” said Rich Davies, founder and CEO of Pavilion Development Co. and co-founder of The Shepherd Hotel. “They have seen the value in creating transformative opportunities to those in our Clemson family who are typically underserved while also stepping up in a tremendous way to bring a best-in-class hospitality experience to our guests.”
The hotel includes 67 guest rooms, the Delish Sisters restaurant on the ground floor, the Thomas Bar on the third floor along with an outdoor terrace, and a rooftop event space.
The Shepherd Hotel’s first guests checked in to the hotel on Sept. 7. Reservations can be made at shepherdhotels.com.
Inspired by his daughter Jamison who has Down syndrome, Rick Hayduk, a seasoned hotel leader, had long aspired to operate a hotel and employ individuals with disabilities. In 2011, Clemson's Head Football Coach, Dabo Swinney, introduced Rick to Rich Davies, a third-generation real estate developer and involved Clemson alum. The three have come together with the goal of positively impacting the lives of others through creating Shepherd Hotels in collaboration with ClemsonLIFE.
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