Unlike a typical first day of class, hospitality students were treated to a tour of a new hotel.

Traditionally, the first day of classes is a bit lackluster. Commonly referred to as “syllabus day,” a significant portion of the class meeting is dedicated to giving introductions, discussing expectations and — you guessed it — reviewing the course syllabus.

Luckily for students in professor Steve Litvin’s HTM 350 hospitality and tourism marketing class, that was not the case.

Shortly after roll call, Litvin announced that instead of poring over the syllabus, they would be special guests at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Charleston’s newest inn, Hotel Bella Grace.

Located in the Mother Emanuel Way Memorial District, the boutique hotel sits across the street from the very church that inspired its name. Bella Grace is a nod to the forgiveness the churchgoers offered to the perpetrator of the 2015 church shooting.

Hotel owner Don Semmler and Kelsey Stoffel, director of sales and marketing, gave Litvin’s students an exclusive tour of the space just days before Hotel Bella Grace welcomed its first guests.

The tour of the lodging showcased an impressive mash-up of contemporary decor and nearly two centuries worth of history and architecture.

Following the walkthrough, students joined community members and leaders including The Rev. Eric Manning, pastor of Mother Emanuel A.M.E., and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg for the grand opening reception.

Students gained valuable insight into the strategies behind a guest-focused hotel in one of the top tourist destinations while reinforcing the School’s’ mission to provide a quality education through experiential learning.

Now that’s what we like to call the first day of classes — the School of Business way!