Hidden in a narrow bay of the River Li, the dark brick buildings of a disused sugar factory had gradually decayed since its closure in the 1990s – unnoticed by the millions of tourists who travel directly past in convoys of excursion boats. The river, which meanders through the steep cliffs of the karst landscape of Guilin in south-western China, is among the country’s most popular tourist goals. Recognizing the charm of this complex a hotel chain from Bali transformed it into a premium resort with 117 bedrooms and suites.