The Linden Centre is amazing in many, many ways, but to call it a luxury hotel is quite a stretch. It has the room quality of a nice hostel, and when visited in November of 2010, service was pretty poor. BUT, and this is an important but, it is an amazing place. Beautifully done, and if you plan to visit Dali/Lijiang area, this is the best place to stay to get a feel for the "real" China.
The beauty of staying here is the ability to wander the village and to feel truly immersed in a real Chinese city. They have free bikes for you to use and you could spend a few days just wandering the streets of the village and admiring the old architecture.
The hotel itself is nicely tucked into an ancient building that was very nicely restored. The rooms are decent. Really nothing special but nothing horrible either.
The big problem was the staff. They were nice people, just had no hotel training whatsoever. It felt kind of like two recent college graduates were hired for their English ability and really their main function seemed to be to ask us if we were going to be eating our lunch or dinner at the hotel. My girlfriend and I like to explore small local restaurants for dinner and it got to the point where we would try and sneak past the front desk so we wouldn't have to be hounded about eating dinner at the hotel. I don't think it was anything malicious on their part, they were probably trained to ask about dinner and just took the responsibility a bit too far, but it was annoying.
The hotel was great as is, and as I mentioned I would recommended it to anyone going to Yunnan as their first place to stay, but they are a few small steps away from making it a really elite hotel. With a well trained staff, slightly spruced up rooms (nicer beds/sheets etc) and some improvement in the kitchen and this place could be absolutely phenomenal.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Centre's goal is to provide China with a sustainable model of tourism. We take pride in hiring local villagers and have worked hard to help train them. Many of them had never talked to Westerners before, let alone have to service them. Based on previous reviews, we have been very pleased with our guests' feelings about the staff. We continue to refine our training and hope to be able to avoid some of the issues faced by this reviewer. Since the guest's review some six months ago, we have hired six additional bilingual staff, including two Western travel curators and an American manager with over 40 years of hotel management experience around the world. Unfortunately, during the guest's visit, I was in Beijing accepting China's Sustainable Tourism Award as selected by Voyager Magazine. I believe that his experience at the Centre now would be unforgettable.
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Because our staff are locals, they have families and responsibilities at home. We have scheduled hours for dinner and must monitor our guests' orders to ensure that we can have everything prepared before some of the staff leave for their homes. There are limited dining facilities in Xizhou, and we do not want guests to be disappointed by the disparity between the Centre and the few local food vendors. Because our staff have children, we try hard to ensure that they can return to their families before 9:00 each evening. Although they are not Swiss trained, they can charm anyone with their warmth and earnestness. For many guests, this ability to share with locals is one of their most cherished memories.
The Centre has never claimed to be luxurious, but we have never been compared to a hostel. Most of our guests stay at 5-star hotels around the world and continue to select us as one of their best international travel experiences. We have worked within the parameters of and limitations posed by China's Cultural Bureaus and have selected the best bathroom fixtures (Kohler), linens (personally designed) and beds from abroad. Our village had inadequate water and electric supply, so we have had to build in all the amenities that are taken for granted in urban areas. The rooms have centuries' old antiques (where else can you share a room with a Ming vase or Yuan stone carving?), artwork by leading artists, and all have high speed wireless connections- very rare in a such a rural location. The Centre has been granted international awards for restoration, focusing particularly on our ability to incorporate amenities and comforts without destroying this national relic. We are very proud of the balance we have been able to strike between comfort and historical accuracy. This balance, along with our family- and village-style of service and sharing, are our strengths.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.