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‘Go-To Guy’: South Coast hotel leader awarded for helping hospitality industry

Ryan Fish/KEYT

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - As leaders across the local hospitality industry go above and beyond to keep their businesses afloat and safe during the coronavirus pandemic, local tourism group Visit Santa Barbara is recognizing some of the individual efforts that stand out the most.

Ramada by Wyndham Santa Barbara general manager and partner Tom Patton is receiving a 'Spirit of Service' award from Visit Santa Barbara, commending his work to keep his hotel and the entire local hospitality industry afloat.

Visit Santa Barbara president & CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes says the award comes after feedback from multiple industry leaders, advocating for Patton to be recognized.

"Tom has exemplified the true spirit of service with his tireless efforts to reopen the community safely," Janega-Dykes said Tuesday. "He's been the 'Go-To Guy.' He's become the trusted resource for the hospitality industry during the pandemic and has really helped businesses navigate the new requirements--and they have changed constantly as they have unfolded.

"I couldn't be more grateful for his dedicated service and certainly his perseverance," she added.

Patton is also a member of Hospitality Santa Barbara and has been involved in several industry groups during his career. He says the 'Spirit of Service' award was a "complete surprise," and that he appreciates the recognition.

During the pandemic, Patton has not only offered guidance; he also helped secure a massive shipment of PPE in July for local hotels and hospitality businesses, through the California Hotel & Lodging Association.

“To me, it’s very personal because I’ve got friends that are running all these different hotels and restaurants and attractions in town,” Patton said Tuesday. “And not only do I want to keep my business going, but I want to make sure that their businesses are able to succeed as well. And that Santa Barbara is kept elevated as a destination that’s perceived as a clean and safe destination for people to travel to.”

The Ramada, like other local hotels, has seen a recent jump in room occupancy. Patton says that the hotel's low came in April with just 12 percent of its rooms filled, though occupancy was up to about 50 percent in July.

That is still well below the 80-90 percent that is normal for the time of year, and Patton fears that the slow summer season will prevent local hotels from earning enough to make it through the typically slow fall and winter, and that some may have to shut down.

In order for the hotels to make it through this period, Patton says everyone in the industry must continue to work together.

In March, the Ramada by Wyndham Santa Barbara opened its rooms for day use as an option for locals to have a space other than home where they can work remotely. It also offered free rooms to first responders and health care workers.

Coronavirus / Lifestyle / Santa Barbara- S County / What's Right

Ryan Fish

Ryan Fish is a reporter, sports anchor and forecaster at KEYT|KCOY|KKFX.