Linden Center hotel misses award

Updated: 2014-12-10 12:37

By Chen Weihua in Washington(China Daily USA)

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 Linden Center hotel misses award

US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Catherine Novelli shakes hands with Robert Barrows, former vice-president of operations at Wagner Asia Equipment, at the ceremony for the Secretary of State's Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) at the State Department in Washington on Tuesday. Chen Weihua / China Daily

Linden Center, a US boutique hotel business operated in southwest China's Yunnan province, narrowly missed the Secretary of State's 2014 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) when the annual award was announced Tuesday.

Linden Center was one of the nine finalists announced by the State department on Nov 19.

The three winners announced on Tuesday included EcoPlanet Bamboo Group in Nicaragua, a bamboo plantation and processing company recognized for its work in fostering sustainable development by regenerating degraded pasturelands; Wagner Asia Equipment in Mongolia, a heavy equipment dealership honored for its commitment to public-private partnership there to protect environment and other good community work; and The Coca-Cola Company in the Philippines for providing disaster relief services to areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.

The ACE was first started in 1999 to commend US-owned businesses that play pivotal roles around the world as good corporate citizens.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was supposed to attend the award ceremony, but was absent to prepare for an urgent Tuesday afternoon Senate hearing on combating the Islamic State, known as ISIS, in the Middle East. Instead, Catherine Novelli, the under secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment, took his place.

"As chair of the ACE award selection committee, I was very impressed by the quality of the finalists, and their work to promote inclusive growth, better environment standards, and transparent business process," Novelli said.

The winners and finalists were chosen by an interagency committee among 39 nominations submitted by US ambassadors around the world.

Linden Center, located in Xizhou town of Dali, a scenic city known for its stone forest in Yunnan province, was founded by Brian Linden and his wife Jeanee Linden. The 14-room hotel is reported to be a refurbished courtyard home of local ethnic Bai nationality.

The couple invested almost all their savings a decade ago into the restoration of the courtyard house, known as Old Yang Mansion, a state-listed historical site, by reviving its past glory.

Linden Center is a hotel operated in an ecologically sustainable manner that fostered awareness and appreciation for cultural heritage, according to a State Department press release.

It renovated an important historic building and converted it into a boutique hotel, which promotes local musicians and other artists.

Linden Center also recruits employees from local communities to promote pride in their cultural heritage, according to the press release.

Linden first went to China in 1984 as a student and worked as a photographer for the Columbia Broadcasting System.

"I was a young fella, aimless and with no dream 30 years ago. China has been a mentor who has been supporting and guiding me," he said in fluent Chinese at a ceremony in Beijing in November last year when Linden Center won the 2013 China Right Here Award.

At the award ceremony in the State department's Ben Franklin Room on Tuesday, Robert Barrows, former vice-president for operations of Wagner Asia Equipment, said while the company focuses on its talent, it implemented world-class safety standards, which were unusual in Mongolia.

"We pioneered many employee benefits, such as in-house lunches, health checkups, on-site medical services, bus transportation to work, housing loans, pension safety programs, and job related relocation training, all of which are unusual in our business climate," he said.

Troy Wiseman, CEO of EcoPlanet Bamboo, is the only one from small and medium enterprise. "EcoPlanet Bamboo is redefining global timber industries by providing a sustainable alternative fibre to wood sourced from natural forests for a vast array of manufacturing processes and end products, from textiles to paper, to charcoal," he said.

"The bamboo grown to feed these industries is not only a competitive investment, but is grown on degraded and marginalized land, restoring ecosystem functioning and contributing to the fight against global climate change," he said.

While US firms operating in China failed to seize this year's awards, past winners included Cargill in China in 2008, for its public-private partnership to increase farm, crop and livestock productivity and prevent the spread of animal diseases, and Chindex International in China in 2002 for its work in delivering healthcare products in China.

Lin Qi contributed to this story.