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Beyond the pleasant simplicity of the Hotel Milo name lies a rich backstory that lives in local lore. So for the sake of telling a good tale and providing a bit of context on the history of our beloved property, we are going to answer a pivotal question — Who was Milo?

To begin with, Milo Potter was a hotelier whose eye for time and opportunity played a crucial role in Santa Barbara’s development as a premier tourism destination in California. Potter saw the completion of the Southern Pacific Railway in the early 1900s as precursor for of an influx of visitors to Santa Barbara and a promising opportunity to develop the city as a tourist destination. A 2014 article from the Los Angeles Times quotes Neal Graffy’s book, Historic Santa Barbara: “Potter knew Santa Barbara was a golden opportunity as a seaside resort.”

An older piece by The Independent partially focused on Potter discussed Milo’s greatest accomplishment: the Potter Hotel, which opened in 1903. According to The Independent, “The hotel, with almost 600 guest rooms, was truly magnificent. The impeccably groomed grounds boasted a zoo and a rose garden with thousands of bushes.”

The piece goes on to describe a grand ballroom, billiards and bowling, gift shops, and the outdoorsy Potter Country Club.

To circle back to our original question, Milo Potter was clearly a man of great vision. He took the idea of Santa Barbara tourism and realized it in the opulent form of the Potter Hotel. After changing the game in Santa Barbara, Potter’s property was later sold off. Following several changes in name and ownership, the hotel tragically and mysteriously burned to the ground in 1921.

Today, we recognize the legacy of Milo Potter at Hotel Milo. As stated on our Hotel Overview page, our property abuts Ambassador Park, a gorgeous lawn lined with California palms that once served as the entryway to the Potter Hotel. We love this subtle homage to a local legend, who stands as the forefather and name behind Santa Barbara the destination.