Getting Authentic in Asia

Getting Authentic in Asia, By James Ruggia Travel Pulse

Published on: September 29, 2009 In the mid-1960s the most common form of American travel in Europe was based on sightseeing. Americans reduced the entire European continent to a journey of a few weeks that brought them by motorcoach across a dozen or so countries where they would obediently disembark from their motorcoaches and admire everything from the Colliseum to the Eiffel Tower.

At first, it was more than enough for these travelers to return home from their great European journey to show their friends photos of themselves standing proudly in front of Notre Dame and Westminster. But as time rolled on and the market matured, American travelers in Europe began demanding a more intimate and authentic experience. That demand is reflected today in such European products as river barge cruises, cooking tours and villa stays. In recent years we’ve seen similar market maturation in American travel to Asia and an emerging series of experiential products to meet the demand of travelers looking for something more authentic than a hotel cultural show.

One such product is China’s Linden Centre (, which is scheduled to open on October 1. For more than 20 years, Brian and Jeanee Linden traveled in Asia, first as students, then as executives and consultants, and later as partners in their fine art and antique galleries in the US. “My dream had always been to create an avenue dedicated to learning, sharing, and exploring the culture and history of China,” says Brian Linden. “The opening of the Linden Centre is the first step in the realization of my dream.”

The Lindens chose a classic example of Chinese regional architecture as the home of the Linden Centre and then spent years on an authentic renovation of the complex. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, it will offer historic villas outside the ancient city of Dali and will be used as a base for theme-oriented programs and short-term cultural immersions. The Centre’s 14 rooms, decorated with antiquities and fine art objects, are located around four courtyards near private gardens, libraries, restaurants, a cafe, fitness center and meeting rooms.

The Centre offers daily excursions to villages, tea plantations, alpine lakes, Taoist, Buddhist temples and more. Guests can choose to stay for short-term all-inclusive immersion packages starting at $150 per night or two- to three-week intensive cultural programs directed by leading experts in their respective fields.

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