Pamela J. Webber
In Memoriam Pamela J. Webber, Matriarch of Santa Barbara Hospitality
The Santa Barbara community lost a beloved local treasure with the passing of Pamela J. Webber on October 21, 2019, at the age of 88. Pam, as she was known, was a pillar of the hospitality community and contributed to countless local causes and preservation organizations. A pioneering businesswoman, she worked her way up from hotel manager to hotel owner—becoming the decorated CEO of Santa Barbara Hotel Group, a family-run collection of five distinctive properties.
Pam never truly “retired” from anything she was committed to. That work ethic and “can-do” spark fueled her success as an entrepreneur and effectiveness as an advocate for the causes she was most passionate about. She remained actively engaged in the company and community throughout her three-year battle with cancer.
Born in Plymouth, England on November 23, 1930, Pam grew up during World War II in the midst of the Plymouth Blitz bomb raids. She emigrated to the United States in 1956 with her husband, David Webber, and young daughter Jeanette, in pursuit of opportunity. They settled in Santa Barbara, where Pam’s career as a hotelier began as manager of the 12-room Hacienda Motel.
Hospitality was the family’s calling. The Webbers had a hand in designing and building the Lemon Tree Inn. In 1962, they became co-owners of the Peppertree Motor Inn and they purchased the Encina Lodge in 1969. The founder of the Best Western hotel brand personally recruited them to give both properties the Best Western flag in the franchise’s early days. In the 1990s, Pam influenced the family’s decision to purchase Brisas Del Mar Inn by the Beach, Inn by the Harbor and Lavender Inn by the Sea. They formed the Santa Barbara Hotel Group as an umbrella company for their thriving independent hotel collection.
Beyond being a hands-on hotelier and loving mother, Pam shared her boundless energy and sharp intelligence with the community through her nonprofit service. She was the first female ever to sit on the board of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce and served many terms on the Visit Santa Barbara Board. She co-founded the Looking Good Santa Barbara organization and led the effort to create Santa Barbara’s Scenic Drive. An avid equestrian, she was Master of the Third Field of the Santa Ynez Valley Hounds and active in both the Los Padres and Hope Ranch trails associations. She was a fixture in the Old Spanish Days Fiesta parade dating back to 1965.
Pam’s service and dedication have been recognized by countless organizations over the course of her lifetime. Among her honors are the prestigious Best Western’s Chairman’s Legacy Award, the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation’s Rock Star Life Achievement Award, Visit Santa Barbara’s Tourism Star and Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce’s Businesswoman of the Year.
Pam is survived by her children Jeanette and Philip Webber, granddaughter Erielle Webber and sister Sandy Jones of England. The Celebration of Life for Pamela J. Webber will be held on her birthday, Saturday, November 23, at 3:00 p.m. at St. Marks-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church, 2901 Nojoqui Ave., Los Olivos.