IIG Partners With Good Shepherd Hospitality for New Boutique Hotel in Downtown Clemson, South Carolina

USA, Clemson, South Carolina. May 16, 2019

Good Shepherd Pavilion LLC, recently announced boutique hospitality design firm IIG as the company that will design The Shepherd Hotel, a hotel set to open to the public in late 2020. Located in downtown Clemson and within view of Clemson University, the hotel will provide an opportunity to employ a large percentage of its workforce to those with learning and intellectual disabilities. The design of the hotel will reflect The Shepherd Hotel mission to inspire and welcome all guests.

The idea for the hotel originated with co-founder Rick Hayduk, a seasoned luxury hotel leader. His daughter Jamison, who has Down syndrome, inspired him to operate a hotel whose primary service providers are individuals with disabilities. Encouraged by his oldest daughter, Vaughn, a Clemson University alumnus, Hayduk partnered with the ClemsonLIFE (Learning Is for Everyone) program to develop the hotel.

"Jamison has been an inspiration to all of us," Hayduk said. "She got me to look at life differently. I now try to see things as she does; always positively and, more importantly, always enjoying the moment."

To bring the project to fruition, Hayduk partnered with Rich Davies, a real estate developer and now co-founder of The Shepherd Hotel.

"I had bought a property in downtown Clemson with the idea of building a hotel," Davies said. "There currently is no downtown hotel within close proximity of the university. So the hotel idea was on my mind anyway. I shared Rick's vision immediately. Many who are challenged by intellectual disabilities are blessed with a special gift of hospitality. We put a partnership together and went to work."

As the selected interior design firm, the IIG designers were touched by the vision of the project and wanted to convey those emotions through the design. Throughout the process, The Shepherd Hotel team has been impressed by the skill and empathy with which the IIG team translates their vision into reality.

"What Leslie [Schultz, IIG's Senior Vice President of Design] and her team did … they captured the spirit of what we're attempting to achieve in this hotel," Davies said. "They took that spirit and translated it into design."

Schultz recalls, "We were able to visit Clemson at the start of the project in an effort to fully capture the essence of Clemson and its community. It was amazing to feel the spirit of welcome at Clemson and with the ClemsonLIFE students. I loved hearing stories of how the students are accepted as part of the community."

Many, but not all, of the hotel's employees will be students or graduates of the ClemsonLIFE program. The hotel will provide the students with practical hospitality training to fulfill their requirements for a Certificate of Hospitality from the university. The goal is that after employment at the hotel, students will have a greater opportunity to find gainful employment.

"The unemployment rate for individuals with a disability exceeds 80 percent, more than twice the rate of those with no disability," said Hayduk. "People with disabilities, including the ClemsonLIFE team, typically have a ‘hospitality gene.' We're proud to provide a platform for them to share and shine."

The Shepherd Hotel team is hopeful that the hotel will provide a positive experience both for employees and guests. The goal is for guests to leave feeling inspired.

"There are many design opportunities that come along in the course of running a business," said Patti Tritschler, CEO of IIG. "This is a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It has such meaning and will carry on a legacy for so many others."

"IIG embraced the local community with us," said Sarah McKinney, a Shepherd Hotel partner. "They connected people in the community to the hotel in a way that hasn't been achieved before. The response from local merchants, as a result, has been very positive and welcoming."

The Shepherd Hotel will host travelers to Clemson, parents of Clemson students and locals. "We are hoping this will become a place the local community can enjoy," McKinney said. "We hope to see things like wedding receptions on the roof for a new grad of Clemson."

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.