When Constantine Vladykin built a two-bedroom holiday home in 1968 he named it in his native Russian tongue. Teremok, built in the then remote area of Umhlanga, means little hideaway - a name that was still applicable upon its conversion into a Boutique Lodge for business executives and the well-heeled.
As a young boy, Constantine (fondly known as Kotchka) and his mother were forced to escape Russia during the Revolution with the aid of the Red Cross. His mother later married an English gentleman Lord Childe Pemberton but sadly died soon afterwards.
A LOVE STORY
Lord Childe had Kotchka educated at Cambourne School of Mines where he qualified as a mining surveyor. This ultimately brought him to South Africa where he met Louiza van Zwam, the 17-year-old daughter of a Belgian diamond cutter. The two fell wildly in love and, despite her parents' concern due to her age, the two married a year later and Kotchka joined the family business. The Vladykins had two children, Nadya and Yvan who was tragically killed in a motor accident at the age of 19.
Nadya married Harvey Douglas in 1959 and was asked by Kotchka while on honeymoon to select a piece of land that would be suitable for a seaside retreat. This was done and the house completed for Christmas 1959. This property is at 51 Marine Drive (on the right of Teremok as you face the sea) and at that time was the last house on the road. Although Marine Drive is now a much sought after residential area - also home to the Oppenheimers' Durban residence - at that point the Vladykins' land was flanked by solid bush and a marsh on the Durban side. The route from Durban central was a narrow twisty road that translated into an hour-long drive, and the Douglas's eventually bought 50 Marine Drive where the old road emerged from the sugar cane fields.
In 1965 the land at number 49 became available and was snapped up by Kotchka. A year later he decided to retire to the coast and build Teremok. His great friend and architect Steffan Ahrends, who had designed his houses in Johannesburg, was also responsible for creating Milkwood, a little further down the road for mining magnates Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer.
An enormous amount of time and effort went into the planning of Teremok and it took a year just to finalise the plans. Kotchka loved trees, particularly the indigenous Milkwoods, and the big one at what was to be the front door was very close to his heart. He was insistent that it not be damaged during building operations and inserted a penalty clause of R1 000 (a large sum of money in 1967!) if the tree came to any harm. The builders carefully surrounded it with a three metre solid wooden structure and all went well.
Upon completion in June 1968 Teremok was occupied by Kotchka and Louiza. Sadly, while in Hong Kong in February the following year Kotcha was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and died in July 1969 at the age of 57. Louiza remained at the house and Nadya and Harvey Douglas bought two more plots of land surrounding Teremok.
The Douglases ultimately inherited Teremok but in 2000 it became apparent that the house had become too big for them and they wanted to be closer to their children and grandchildren. They started by selling 47 and 51 Marine Drive but dreaded relinquishing Teremok. The house was eventually put onto the market in June 2002 and only three weeks later was viewed by Debbie Davidson who immediately fell in love with it.
Debbie also owns The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway and was not looking for another business venture, rather for accommodation for the large casts which the theatre is home to for months at a time. She instantly recognized the magic of Teremok and decided it presented the perfect opportunity to capitalise on her daughter Kim's idea to develop a boutique hotel to cater for the much-neglected travelling business executive. The Teremok philosophies and brand were developed by Debbie and her two daughters, Kim Davidson and Tracy Gielink, all of whom had no previous hospitality experience. Fortunately being well-travelled and very discerning, they simply set about creating the type of establishment they would like to stay in.
Teremok was originally purchased as a three-bedroom house - although the spacious interior was also home to a study, billiard room, large dining room and a separate dressing room off the main bedroom - and while little was done to the exterior, the inside was given a complete overhaul.
The house is steeped in such a rich history that it was decided to recreate a new space that was still true to the essence of what was designed, built and joyously lived in for so many years. Original doors, sash windows and wooden flooring were left in place or reused elsewhere and the photos found in the stairwell pay tribute to the Vladykin family.
Teremok Marine opened its doors in December 2003, and then in 2008 and 2014 a décor refresh and light refurbishment was done to keep abreast of current trends and technology, and to ensure that regular guests continue to be titillated. Teremok Marine undertook another development in mid-2010 when the Spa and gym facility were completely renovated and re-opened as a sumptuous refuge.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER...
The mother-daughter team continue to be hands-on owners who passionately run the business. They are backed up by a hand-picked team of staff whose genuine smiles and hospitality have seen the boutique hotel scoop numerous service excellence awards and they are currently rated the number one hotel in Umhlanga via Trip Advisor.