Our Journey

Our Journey

Our Story

Chapter One

THE REVOLUTION

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.

Chapter Two

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.

Chapter Three

THE RETREAT

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.

Chapter Four

THE TREE

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.

Chapter Five

SERENDIPITY

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.

Chapter Six

REINCARNATION

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 d├ęcor 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.

Us

The owners behind the Teremok brand and operations are Kim Davidson, Tracy Gielink and mother Debbie Davidson. A tour de force, they work and travel together and were once facetiously referred to as the Trilogy. They had the last laugh when they embraced the rather stern sounding mantle and incorporated it into the Teremok brand.

Kim Davidson

It was Kim who shrewdly identified a gap in the hospitality sector for a small, exclusive accommodation establishment in Umhlanga, long before "boutique" was even a catchword. Described as an "obsessive perfectionist", Kim was the obvious person to set up and oversee the operational side of Teremok. On top of this, she puts her public relations background (she worked for The Sharks rugby when they turned professional) to good use as she handles all Teremok's publicity and marketing. Although the most down-to-earth of the three, Kim still appreciates the finer things in life, especially design and travel, both of which continue to inspire her.

Tracy Gielink

Tracy is an unapologetic hedonist so it's little wonder that, as a qualified journalist, she chooses to write primarily about food and wine. Reviewing restaurants has made her even more militant about service and, although the staff are probably tired of hearing her bleat on about the importance of consistency, they benevolently smile and nod. She loves her creative outlet but equally relishes her integral role in the family business. When taking over the Spa, Tracy discovered her business acumen and has developed it into a successful business in its own right. Her magpie-like penchant for all things sparkly and OTT is tempered by her younger (and mostly bossier) sister Kim.

Debbie Davidson

A fiercely competitive nature was fostered by horse riding from a young age where Debbie preferred the thrill of show jumping and amateur racing. Her father passed on an entrepreneurial spirit and her mother a steely resolve; traits that have seen Debbie succeed against all odds. Always restless and looking for a new challenge, she happily gave up grand scale event planning to open a 420-seater musical theatre in Gateway shopping centre in 2001. As if this wasn't challenge enough, she discovered the Teremok property and financed the conversion of it into a five star boutique hotel. Debbie is an incredibly intuitive businesswoman and has been a visionary in defining the Teremok brand. She constantly jokes that she would like Tracy and Kim to retire her but they know she is incapable of it!

Pay It Forward

The Trilogy believe in paying it forward, and Operation Bobbi Bear is their charity of choice.

Operation Bobbi Bear is a very worthy registered Non-Profit Organization which aims to rescue, represent, reintegrate and uphold the rights of sexually abused children, minimize their risk of HIV infection and help them towards wholeness. They rely solely on donations from the community and companies to enable them to continue their valuable work for sexually abused children.

Bobbi Bear is a toy that is provided as a non-threatening means for child victims of sexual abuse to communicate the nature of abuse, crossing all language barriers and preventing secondary abuse at point-of-rescue. It provides the criminal-justice system and caregiver with a better understanding of actual events and enables the initiation of appropriate HIV and Aids interventions. Because the child is using Bobbi Bear to describe what has happened, she/he does not have to relive the trauma by having to show this on his/her own body. Bobbi Bear overcomes all language barriers that could arise between a child and the police. Bobbi Bear is dated and signed by the Child Protection Unit, the Bobbi Bear Child Safety Officer and caregiver, and is then bagged and kept for the child's first appearance in court.

The organization also runs a safe house where children are cared for once they have been removed from an abusive home environment until they can be placed somewhere suitable.

If you would like to help the Operation Bobbi Bear by sponsoring a bear for R100 or making a monetary donation, this can be done at Teremok Spa or Teremok Marine receptions. We collect funds and regularly hand them over.

Our Fairytale

KNOCK, KNOCK,
TEREMOK!

A Traditional Russian Tale
Adapted by Katya Arnold

A Fly was flying in the sky.
She came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
Nobody answered.
So she made the house her home.

A Mouse was running in the field. She came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
Who are you?
I am the Mouse, who needs a new house.
Let's live together.

A Frog was leaping through the field.
He came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
It's me, the Mouse, who needs a new house.
Who are you?
I am the Frog, from out of the bog.
Let's live together.

A Duck was walking through the field.
He came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
It's me, the Mouse, who needs a new house.
It's me, the Frog, from out of the bog.
Who are you?
I am the Duck, who has good luck.
Let's live together.

A Hare was hopping through the woods.
He came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
It's me, the Mouse, who needs a new house.
It's me, the Frog, from out of the bog.
It's me, the Duck, who has good luck.
Who are you?
I am the Hare, who jumps in the air.
Let's live together.

A Fox was strolling through the woods.
She came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
It's me, the Mouse, who needs a new house.
It's me, the Frog, from out of the bog.
It's me, the Duck, who has good luck.
It's me, the Hare, who jumps in the air.
Who are you?
I am the Fox, in nice white socks.
Let's live together.

A Pig was walking in the woods.
She came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
It's me, the Mouse, who needs a new house.
It's me, the Frog, from out of the bog.
It's me, the Duck, who has good luck.
It's me, the Hare, who jumps in the air.
It's me, the Fox, in nice white socks.
Who are you?
I am the Pig, who can dance a jig.
Let's live together.

A Wolf was marching through the woods.
He came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
It's me, the Mouse, who needs a new house.
It's me, the Frog, from out of the bog.
It's me, the Duck, who has good luck.
It's me, the Hare, who jumps in the air.
It's me, the Fox, in nice white socks.
It's me, the Pig, who can dance a jig.
Who are you?
I am the Wolf, the nice little Wolf!
Let's live together.

So they did!
And everyone was very happy.

A Bear was stomping through the woods.
He came across a little hut.
Knock, knock, knock.
Who lives in the teremok?
It's me, the Fly, queen of the sky.
It's me, the Mouse, who needs a new house.
It's me, the Frog, from out of the bog.
It's me, the Duck, who has good luck.
It's me, the Hare, who jumps in the air.
It's me, the Fox, in nice white socks.
It's me, the Pig, who can dance a jig.
It's me, the Wolf, the nice little Wolf!
Who are you?
I am the Bear, and I need a new lair.
May I live with you?
No, there is no room - go away!
But may I stay on the roof?
No, you're too heavy.
No I'm not, let me try.

So the Bear sat on
The house and squashed it.

Everybody barely escaped!

Designed by Adrian McIntosh