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Iconic Strater Hotel in Durango sells for $13.44 million, according to records

New owner says biggest challenge since acquisition is tight labor market
From left, Jeremy Barker and his parents, Laurie and Rod Barker, former owners of the Strater Hotel, with the family and new owners of the hotel, Ross Garrett, Colton Garrett and Karen Garrett in the hotel lobby. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The sale price for the Strater Hotel, which sold April 30, has been listed with the La Plata County Assessor’s Office at $13.44 million.

The sale price lists two parcels, the hotel and the hotel’s parking lot between the Strater and Denny’s.

The sale price included the land, building and the hotel business, said new owner Ross Garrett in a telephone interview. He declined to discuss other financial provisions of the deal, citing a nondisclosure agreement.

“We're prohibited from disclosing sale’s details in the sales contract between buyer and seller,” he said.

Garrett said the dynamics of the lodging business in Durango are about what he anticipated. On April 30, he and his wife, Karen, assumed operation of the Strater, Durango’s flagship inn built in 1887, during the heyday of the railroad and mining era in Southwest Colorado.

The biggest challenge so far has been a labor shortage, he said.

President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan provides for $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits as part of the latest COVID-19 relief package.

Garrett said he believes the federal enhanced unemployment benefits have created a tight labor pool in Colorado.

“We’re having trouble filling positions, but so is everybody else in the state,” he said.

Garrett said he was experiencing a similar labor shortage with his inn in Texas, the Lone Star Lodge and Marina, in Pilot Point.

But when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced in mid-May that the state would discontinue enhanced unemployment benefits, Garrett said the Lone Star Lodge and Marina began seeing more applicants.

Texas is discontinuing enhanced unemployment benefits on June 26.

“It was like a light switch,” Garrett said “We had to stop our ads, we were getting so many applicants. It went from like two or maybe three a day to about 30,” he said.

The Diamond Belle Saloon at the Strater Hotel. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Garrett, who has been visiting Southwest Colorado since the 1960s, when he was a 9-year-old growing up in Amarillo, Texas, said he has dreamed about owning the Strater for at least 25 years.

“Durango and Southwest Colorado are pretty much my second home. My family spent a lot of time up here, roaming these mountains, riding dirt bikes and fishing, spending time here at this hotel, and camping in the area,” Garrett said in an interview in April, a day before the sale of the Strater.

Former Strater Hotel owner Rod Barker, whose family was involved in the inn’s ownership for 95 years, is serving as a consultant, helping the Garretts as they settle into their ownership roles.

parmijo@durangoherald.com

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