Living the American dream

By Alywin Chew ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-04-11 08:18:35

Living the American dream

Brian Linden.[Photo provided to China Daily]

How a hotelier from Chicago is achieving success with his boutique hotel business by embracing Chinese cultures and traditions.

The Linden Center in the sleepy village of Xizhou, Yunnan province has often been labelled as a luxury boutique hotel, but instead of providing guests with branded toiletries, limousine chauffeurs and personal butler services, the hotel owner is focusing on what he believes luxury is really about - learning.

Linden Center is American Brian Linden's first ever hotel venture in China and it highly encourages guests to join tours with their guides to explore Xizhou through activities like hiking and intimate visits to the homes of the ethnic groups Bai and Hui people - which explains why none of the rooms comes with televisions, mini-bars or blackout curtains, standard fixtures in a conventional luxury hotel.

"The only luxury aspect to this place is that we allow guests to have a very special experience in a country where it's hard to have one now," says the 52-year-old.

"In China, everyone throws money at the hardware - you can build a hotel next to your competitor and have bigger bathtubs or better televisions. No one really spends any time on the software, the spirit of the place," he adds.

But don't be mistaken, because the Linden Center - a restored ancient mansion that has been classified as a Class A historical relic - is nonetheless a beautiful place for a getaway. From the perfectly manicured gardens to the charming antiques found all around, the compound is a highly aesthetic ode to Linden's passion for China's rich culture. His approach has obviously paid off, because the hotel was last year nominated for the US Secretary of State's Award for Corporate Excellence, in addition to a slew of other accolades. And now, nearly seven years since its establishment, Linden is ready to unveil his second boutique lodging in April.

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