The Linden Centre
Floating above the pristine rice and canola fields north of the old town of Dali is a beautiful courtyard compound built in 1947 by a wealthy entrepreneur from the Bai ethnic group named Yang Pinxiang. Over seven decades, the building, which is located in the historic Xizhou Village, went through many changes, from being privately owned to becoming public property after the Cultural Revolution and land reforms, and from serving as an army barracks and military hospital to housing a kindergarten. In 2001, it was designated as a national heritage site. The courtyard finely captures the exquisite architectural style of the Bai ethnic group that predominantly lives in the area. This compound is now a boutique hotel managed and run by an American couple, Brian and Jeanee Linden, who have injected new life and respect into this important heritage site.
The Lindens spent 2004-2006 traveling throughout China in search of their first site. Their goal was to create a platform for cultural exchange and immersion in rural China. Xizhou, because of its 100+ historic compounds, was their first choice. They selected one large courtyard and started to negotiate with the local government. Although their initial attempts to buy the compound were not successful, after two years of negotiations with the township and municipal governments, the couple was finally allowed to sign a 20-year lease for the property in 2006. Since then, Brian and Jeanee have turned this nationally protected heritage site into the Linden Centre. Brian and Jeanee Linden have a high respect for China’s cultural traditions, and initially invested four million Renminbi (RMB) in the careful restoration and maintenance of the Linden Centre. They applied alternative and sustainable hospitality models in developing this nationally protected heritage compounds with the goal being to create a type of living museum. The site features important Chinese original artwork, salvaged regional architectural elements, and prized antiques from the surrounding area. Brian and Jeanee do not only serve the role of the hospitality service providers of a boutique hotel, but also promote the center’s heritage and ensure
its cultural preservation, making it a large contributor to the touristic avant-gardism in Yunnan. Despite
incorporating the similar comforts of a luxurious hotel, the Linden Centre has not sacrificed historical accuracy and cultural richness. They are the only foreign entrepreneurs in rural China who operate boutique hotels in a nationally protected properties.
The Linden Commons, another national heritage site, has recently opened after four years of restoration and, in addition to housing 14 guestrooms, also has a large conference facility, cooking school, fitness center shared with the community, restaurants and a cafe. Apart from operating the hotel properties, the Lindens have also set up educational activities on their second heritage site- The Education Annex- whereby schools are invited to work with the Centre in designing and carrying out custom education programmes. The Lindens’ afore mentioned efforts have turned it into an iconic place of interest in Yunnan, making it a mustvisit travel destination.
The Linden Centre
Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO)
14 pages | 1.2 MB