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New Leland House owners preserve historic hotel’s ‘at home in Durango’ brand

Longtime owners Kurt Komick and Diane Wildfang sold the hotel to Chuck and Tanya Ensign, along with their son and his partner
The Leland House, the historic downtown Durango hotel, has new owners, Tanya and Chuck Ensign, and their son, Alec Ensign, and Alec’s partner, Dominic Martinez. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The new owners of Leland House want visitors to live like locals.

That was the branding the previous owners – mother and son duo Kurt Komick and Diane Wildfang – adopted during their 28-year ownership of Leland House, and it’s not going anywhere.

Neither is the mother-son connection embedded in the hotel’s foundation, said new owner Tanya Ensign.

Tanya and her husband, Chuck Ensign, along with their son, Alec, and his partner, Dominic Martinez, have taken over ownership of the hotel. Tanya and Chuck are the primary investors, but Alec and Martinez will oversee day-to-day operations.

“She bought it when she was about my age,” Tanya said of Wildfang. “Now she’s kind of handing the baton over.”

Alec Ensign, left, and Dominic Martinez stand inside Leland House on Wednesday as the new co-owners of the hotel. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The property sold for $2,650,000, according to the La Plata County Assessor’s Office.

The previous owners have acted as mentors for the family, passing on knowledge and advice during a monthlong training leading up to the transaction’s closure.

They had a personal relationship even before the sale, as the two families crossed paths playing tennis together. Tanya and Wildfang both serve on the Women’s Resource Center board as well.

It was a fast process. The family first toured the property in April and closed on it by the time summer came around.

“We're always up for something new as entrepreneurs,” Tanya said. “And with so much change in Durango and the surrounding area, we felt really good about keeping this property in local hands, and honoring and continuing the legacy.”

Seasoned entrepreneurs, the Ensigns have experience with running environmental, solar and energy, real estate and technology companies.

A suite inside of the Leland House on Wednesday in Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“We didn’t want to see this Durango treasure be demolished,“ Tanya said. ”So we were pretty thrilled at the opportunity to take over ownership and then, selfishly, it was a way for our kids to move home to Durango and have a livelihood here.“

While Tanya is excited to instill Alec and Martinez with the family’s entrepreneurial expertise, the up-and-coming business professionals have qualifications of their own.

Both graduated from Arizona State University, where they met in the business school. They are pursuing virtual master’s degrees, and Alec even worked at the Strater Hotel on Main Avenue during his summers home from college.

“We're not changing anything fundamental because they got it to such a great place before,” Alec said.

There were, however, some minor cosmetic changes and renovations to the front patio, including new paving and a wooden bar chop. This was a vision of Komick’s that Martinez helped bring to life. With a background in architecture and design, he was able to create renderings of the potential improvements and work with contractors to make it happen.

Visitors staying in any of the hotel’s 11 suites can also now enjoy 24/7 coworking amenities at R-Space, as well as split-unit air conditioners and microwaves in each room. The hotel is also now 100% solar-powered.

The Ensigns, much like their new business, have ingrained themselves into Durango’s roots.

Tanya, besides her various leadership positions with organizations like the Women’s Resource Center, served as a professor teaching entrepreneurship at Fort Lewis College for five years. She’s now teaching a hybrid doctoral program in global leadership at Indiana Institute of Technology.

They are all outdoor enthusiasts, and they hope to continue to market to like-minded people, especially in places like Albuquerque, Phoenix and Southern California, where travel time wouldn’t be extensive, Alec said.

“It's easy to be the concierge when we do it ourselves,” Tanya said.

Furthering its involvement with the community, the family looks to offer internships for Fort Lewis College hospitality students in the future.

Alec and Martinez are proud to represent the interests of LGBTQ and Indigenous communities; Martinez being a member of the Pascua Yaki tribe of Guadalupe, Arizona.

They will host an event for the Four Corners Diversity Alliance in October, and they’re frequent attendees of Thursday night drag trivia at Starlight Lounge.

“We've really gotten connected to a lot of people,” Martinez said. “That's just going to be really special to be planted here and give people a safe space and kind of be a role model to others and show them that, no matter who you are, you can do what you set your mind to and your heart to,” Martinez said.

kparkinson@bcimedia.com