Mattei’s Tavern, the historic Santa Ynez Valley stagecoach stop and designated county landmark, braces for big changes as its new owners plan to bring luxury to the treasured stopping spot by the time it reopens in 2021. The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern will be operated by Auberge Resorts Collection, and the 6.5-acre property will see a ritzy renovation upgrade of 67 cottage-style accommodations, a restaurant featuring the “seasonal flavors of Los Olivos,” an outdoor pool, and what a press release called “country-inspired” event spaces and a signature spa.
Originally opened in 1886 by Swiss-American Felix Mattei in the small town of Los Olivos, the guesthouse provided an inn, a dining room, and a bar for travelers. The tavern has remained a social hub ever since, serving as a stomping ground during the California Gold Rush, a speakeasy during Prohibition, and an automobile touring stopover. Despite many changes in the property’s management over the decades, the tavern’s pastoral charm and historical significance has persisted.
However, Mattei’s Tavern is set to see more development than ever before, which has concerned community members and visitors. One valley resident said in a letter to the county Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission (HLAC), “I would hate to see the Tavern be altered in any such a way that it would diminish this rich history of Los Olivos and our Santa Ynez Valley.”
Mattei’s Tavern is currently closed for renovation, as is the rest of the inn, though the tavern is working to obtain a permit to enable restaurant operations before The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern officially opens. Auberge Resorts Collection will manage the existing restaurant on behalf of the owner, Los Angeles lawyer Brian R. Strange, who purchased the tavern with his wife, Shamra Strange, in August 2017.
Brian Strange has handled the resort’s sticky permitting process, working with Santa Barbara–based DMHA Architecture and other area consultants. He said all historical buildings will be kept in place, keeping with the history of Mattei’s, though the buildings will be enhanced.
“The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern will seek to redefine laid-back wine country luxury, blending the historic beginnings of the property with modern touches,” Strange said in answer to written questions. “Revered and enjoyed for generations, The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern looks forward to reintroducing the storied property to guests and locals in 2021.”