It was an exciting day for visitors of Coast Village Road as the Montecito Inn reopened.
Two months ago. hotel guests watched as debris flowed down Olive Mill Road and covered the first floor and garage levels of the hotel with feet of mud.
"Everyone was in a panic and not too sure what was going on or what they should do," Jason Copus, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Montecito Inn said. "I was actually down here at 4 a.m. assisting guests being evacuated," he explained.
Copus made sure his guests and staff were safe, and then quickly began the process of cleaning and repairing the Inn.
"We had to do plaster repairs along our exterior walls obviously the clean up we had to fix our parking garages," Copus said.
After nearly two months of being closed and under repair, the doors of the hotel reopened Saturday morning to happy guests and visitors.
"I’m delighted to see all the renovation that they’ve had to do and the cleaning up and the re-landscaping. It’s fabulous," Renee Nichols said.
Nichols has stayed at the Montecito Inn many times over the years, including just days before the January mudslides.
"I was able to see the before and after and now I’m really going to appreciate the reopening," said Nichols.
Frequent guest Poppy Popowich was also excited to see the hotel up and running.
"This is a staple right here. You come off the highway, you hit the Montecito Inn," said Popowich.
She was thrilled to be returning to her "special room" at the hotel, because to her, the reopening of the Montecito Inn is a sign of positive recovery efforts.
"It’s a big thing because everybody’s watched it under mud, we watched it being painted, we watched it come out of the disaster zone," Popowich explained.
Three more restaurants are set to open in the Montecito Inn within the next year.
There are still a few minor touch-ups to be made, but visitors and staff are just happy to see this landmark reopened.
"We’re looking forward to another 90 years," Copus said.
The hotel also established a small memorial for 23 victims killed in the debris flows.
Within the newly planted garden, 23 stones have been placed in a ring to honor those killed.
The owners of the Montecito Inn also lit a skylight on the building following the disaster as a symbol of hope.
They’re now considering making it a tradition to light up the night of January 9th in honor of those 23 victims and all those impacted by the devastating mudslides.