Rising over the shore of Lake Hartwell, close enough to Memorial Stadium to hear the roar of the crowd on game days, Clemson’s first-ever luxury condo-hotel Lakeside Lodge is now officially open for business.
Billed as a modern resort getaway and designed with Clemson football fans in mind, Lakeside Lodge and its full-service restaurant, Traditions on the Lake, are now accepting reservations and guests to stay at the property as a hotel. The 118-unit luxury condo-hotel, which has a sellout value hovering around $50 million, was originally scheduled to open in the spring, but that date was pushed back due to state mandated COVID-19-related shutdowns.
Now, after a gradual soft opening, Lakeside Lodge’s developers are confident they’ve managed to open safely.
“The reality is all our systems have been proven and tested,” said developer Leighton Cubbage. “This has not been a one-man dance, by any means. All this time, the dedication of the team has been key to getting us where we are now.”
Lakeside Lodge is unique in that it combines condo ownership with modified hotel amenities, as well as the option for owners to generate income by renting out their condos when they are not personally using them. At any given time, the resort has approximately 189 hotel rooms or suites available for overnight stays and short-term rentals, depending upon how many owners decide to put their condo or a portion of their condo in the rental program.
Rates hover between $109 a night for a traditional resort room to as high as $299 for a one-bedroom lakefront suite, which also includes a great room and a full-size kitchen. Cubbage said the goal was to offer as many different room configurations as possible to fit any need.
Condo prices range from $200,000 to $700,000. Whether occupied as a condo or hotel room, all rooms are pet-friendly.
Already about 75% of the condos have been purchased, Cubbage said.
The resort amenities include a pool and hot tub, outdoor amphitheater, fire pit, meeting space, fitness facilities and outdoor football field, as well as Traditions on the Lake, the on-site restaurant that specializes in a mix of American classic and international favorites, with a focus on free-range, grass-fed meats, organically grown produce and house-made pastas.
‘It’s like a club’
Strolling through the lobby of Lakeside Lodge one unbearably hot afternoon in late July, Cubbage greeted the staff as well as early guests, many of whom he knew by name.
“My wife likes to joke that I’m so happy now that I’ve got all my Clemson friends here, like it’s a club,” Cubbage said. He shrugged. “Hey, she’s not wrong.”
As if to prove that point, up by the front desk stood Tajh Boyd, Clemson’s former star quarterback, who now manages condo sales for Lakeside Lodge.
Less immediately visible, though, is the full roster of other Clemson alums who made the resort possible.
Real estate executive Steve Mudge, who’s served more than a decade as president and principal at Evergreen Associates, developed the property alongside Cubbage, having previously worked together to build the Residences at Biltmore in Asheville, also a condo-hotel project.
But for both men, Lakeside Lodge is more personal.
“Leighton and I, along with our partners, just wanted to do something significant for Clemson,” Mudge said. “In fact, several of our partners said right off the bat that they didn’t even care about making money; they just wanted to be proud of it.”
Both Mudge and Cubbage are Clemson football alums, having played together “more years ago than I’d like to admit,” Cubbage said.
Then there’s Mike Keeshen, vice president of architecture for Goodwyn Mills Cawood, which designed Lakeside Lodge. Keeshen is also a former Clemson student athlete, having been a track and field star back in the late 1970s. Chief engineer Steve Cawood, who serves on the board of directors of GMC, is yet another Clemson graduate.
The list goes on. Joe Erwin, former Clemson head cheerleader, assisted with marketing for Lakeside Lodge. Joe and Jeff Bostic, who both played for Clemson before being drafted in the NFL, were key investors in the project.
And that’s not even mentioning the many other Clemson graduates who serve on the resort’s staff in other areas, without whom the work leading up to the resort’s opening would not have been possible, Cubbage said.
“Hundreds of names you don’t even know, but they were pivotal in making this happen,” he said.
Stepping outside, maneuvering around the pool area and outdoor bar, past the fire pit, the gazebo and amphitheater, and coming to a stop in the hot sun out on the football field by Lake Hartwell, Cubbage said a part of him still doesn’t think it feels real to have built a massive resort just yards away from where he and his business partner Mudge used to toss the football around as college kids.
Now, decades removed from those early years, he described his vision for the open field in the months ahead.
“We always wanted to have a place where people can tailgate, throw the ball around, toss the Frisbee,” Cubbage said. He’d like to see giant screens go up for people to sit out and watch the games, hearing the crowd in the distance, the boom of the cannon.
But of course, that’s assuming the football season happens at all this year.
“We’re going to be good either way, but for most of us, our primary social life is football season,” Cubbage said. “At our last business meeting, some guy said, ‘Well, let’s hope we have football this year,’ and I just couldn’t believe we were even saying things like that. These are such surreal times.”
Regardless of what happens football-wise, Cubbage said Lakeside Lodge is not designed just for Clemson football fans. Already many of the guests treat the resort as their own getaway, a place to go for a pretend honeymoon after dropping the kids off at the in-laws. Beyond that, Cubbage can envision corporate meetings, wedding ceremonies, large family reunions and countless other possibilities for the space.
“We just want this to be a place where people can enjoy themselves, feel comfortable and meet other people,” Cubbage said. “This ‘little club,’ as my wife calls it — well, we want that club to continue to grow in the years to come.”