The Order of the Baobab in
Profile of Otto Stehlik
Otto Stehlik was born in 1947 in Grieskirchen, Austria. He is the founder and owner of the Protea Hospitality Group. He has been the chairperson of the group for many years. He is a successful businessman who has contributed immensely to development in South Africa. As a young man, Stehlik received training at the Hotel and Tourism College in Vienna, Austria.
He entered the hospitality industry at an early age, working for the Intercontinental in Vienna. He later moved to London where he worked for the Hyde Park Hotel and Royal Garden Hotel respectively. He immigrated to South Africa in 1970 and began work as a receptionist at the five-star Heerengracht Hotel in Kimberley, Northern Cape. Due to a principled work ethic, Stehlik rose through the ranks to become Managing Director of the five-star Heerengacht hotels by 1977.
However, it was in 1984 that his big break came in the industry; he started the Protea Hotels. When he started the business Stehlik did not have enough capital. But he has managed to grow the business into a successful company that dominates the hospitality industry on the African continent. Ever since he rose as the doyen of the hospitality industry, Stehlik has facilitated over R4-billion foreign direct investment into South Africa.
His company saved and created over 14 000 sustainable jobs to date. His success has been a blessing to South Africa, helping the country address the challenge of development and in the process creating employment opportunities.
Driven by a determination to leave a legacy to the people of South Africa and Africa, Stehlik started the Institute for Professional Development, which trains South Africa and Africa’s hospitality industry workforce. His excellence in business has won him wide acclaim. Among many recognition awards, Protea Hotels is a two-time winner of the World Travel Awards Best Hotel Group in Africa.
By establishing the institute, Stehlik has demonstrated that as a businessman he understands and appreciates the positive influence that business can play in society.