Winnetu Oceanside Resort History

We love sharing the background of our lovely Island spot with those who appreciate its beauty and timelessness.

If you’re like many of our guests, you may enjoy learning a bit about the history of the places where you vacation. Read the overview below, ask as many questions as you want during your visit, and notice the many rare photographs hanging on the walls at the Winnetu Hotel and Mattakeset Properties.

Mattakesett Properties

Mattakesett was built in 1968 by Stanmar, Inc. and the Snider family. The name “Mattakesett” is a tribute to the original Mattakeset Lodge (Note only the one “t”) that flourished between 1874 and 1905 and was located not far away from the present site.

The original Lodge was popular for its clambakes, dances under the stars and, most importantly, its unique south-facing location by the sea that was consistently cooled by the gentle sea breezes during the heat of summer.

Winnetu Evolution
Winnetu Evolution

Railroad Map

Advertising poster and railroad map, circa 1890. Click images to enlarge.

Before the days of air conditioning, there was no more enjoyable place to be than the old Mattakeset Lodge. Not much has changed since then! Portions of the old lodge still stand today in Edgartown (see photo, above).

To accommodate the demands of its day, a narrow-gauge railroad was built, connecting the Oak Bluffs Steamship Wharf (same location as today) with Edgartown – and then out to Katama and the Mattakeset Lodge and South Beach. The South Beach rail stop was at the same site as today’s Winnetu Hotel. The railroad ended service in 1892 – a victim of poor management and washouts from storms.

Winnetu Oceanside Resort

The Winnetu Hotel opened on June 29, 2000. It was carefully designed to reflect both the Vineyard’s late nineteenth century, shingle-style character, and also provide all the modern conveniences guests expect today.

In addition to being the site of the old railroad beach stop, this spot also served as a Naval air and sea base during World War II. After the war, the base was converted to a hotel; a.k.a., the”Katama Shores Motor Inn.” The old hotel was removed in 1999 to make way for today’s Winnetu Hotel.

Both Mattakesett Properties and the Winnetu Hotel (a.k.a., “Winnetu Oceanside Resort”) continue under the ownership and management of the Snider family.

Please take a few moments to notice the “blinker” and its plaque outside the entrance to the Winnetu lobby.  It used to be located at the rotary on the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown road and was the only traffic light on the Vineyard.  It has been preserved by the Resort.