On the last day of August in 1984, I stepped off the Trans Siberian railway in Beijing and became a new person. Over ten thousand kilometers from Chicago, I felt like I had found home.
Since that time, I have endeavored to share the richness of my adopted culture with the world. The Linden Centre was built on this foundation of respect for China.
Every one of our sites must incorporate these same values, both tangibly via our preservation principles and intangibly through our connections with the existent social and cultural resources of the local communities. Indeed, community, I decided, must be the focus of any future expansion. More than a tourist stop, our hotels must refocus the traveler on the area’s culture and people.
After a decade of careful refinement of our social model, I am proud to announce the opening of two new hotels: Shaxi Shilong and Suzhou Dongshan.
Our expansion to Suzhou spent a decade visiting potential sites and conducting community research before agreeing to restore this Ming/Qing masterpiece.
The restoration of this complex took over three years. Within these walls, guests can escape from the urban pressures only thirty minutes away, and reflect on the richness of China’s millenium-old literati culture.
The site proudly continues the Linden Centre ethos that has made our original hotels so unique. We dedicate 60% of our hotels to public spaces that encourage guest interaction with visiting experts and with the local communities. We also regularly host leading artists and scholars who share their talents with our guests.
We also have excursions to explore the Dongshan peninsula filled with tea plantations and orchards and living ancient villages, visiting the homes of our Dongshan neighbors, many of whom are continuing the cultural traditions passed down from the Song Dynasty.
Our Shaxi Shilong project revitalizes and revalues the indigenous traditions of rammed earth construction. After over four years of researching different soils, local building techniques and engineering methods, we created a stunning mountaintop complex that has already received the prestigious American Architecture Prize and the United Kingdom / United Nations Social Impact Award.
Our personally scouted hikes explore the natural beauty of the Shibaoshan National Park and visit the world-renowned heritage Buddhist grottoes and mountaintop temples. Just watch out for the monkeys.
Within walking distance of this hotel, we are planning our agricultural learning center and cooking school/restaurant in the neighboring Yi village. We also will have a large educational annex in the old cultural center of Shilong Village, which will serve as a site for students and scholars from around the world to research this diverse region.
China's soft power must be forged from its long and majestic history and not only from its proud post-1979 economic accomplishments. As foreigners, we strongly believe that the world cannot help but embrace China if it can understand this country through its 5,000 years of collected wisdom and acumen.
Our mission to share these attributes with the world will continue to inspire the growth of our company.