PROTEA HOTELS was formed on I July 1984, with an initial base of four managed properties which were controlled by Otto Stehlik and his partners – the Heerengracht and Capetonian Hotels in Cape Town, the Protea Gardens Hotel in Johannesburg and the San Lameer resort on the Natal South Coast. The company was owned 60% by Bankorp and 40% by Otto Stehlik and his partners, who were also directors of the company.
A rapid expansion programme followed and the number of hotels under the PROTEA banner increased to 20 by the end of 1984 and to 40 by 1987, providing accommodation right across the three, four and five star spectrum. Literally every hotel was refurbished and upgraded and higher grading obtained. Bankrupt hotels were turned around and put on a profitable financial footing.