Teremok Marine Lodge: Boutique, Must-Visit Accommodations in South Africa’s Umhlanga Rocks
It’s rare that we publish straight-up hotel reviews here on Vagabondish. But it’s not often that we find near-perfect accommodations either. Which is why South Africa’s Teremok Marine Lodge is well worth a mention (it’s clear that plenty of other travelers agree).
I’ve been singing its praises to anyone and everyone since my stay in April. It’s not the biggest, priciest, most luxurious, or most extravagant. And thankfully it’s not trying to be; rather it just gets everything right. “Goldilocks” accommodations, if you will. (Prepare yourself for effusive, flowery words of praise …)
Guest Lounge at Teremok Marine Lodge, Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa
Situated on a quiet hillside overlooking Africa’s Sugar Coast, Teremok takes its Russian namesake (literally meaning “little hideaway”) quite seriously. The owners tout it as a “luxurious five-star boutique lodge” and I have to agree – it’s intimate, yet spacious; luxurious, yet comforting. It’s as though you’re staying at a friend’s house, yet the layout allows for plenty of privacy. Whether that means retiring to one of only eight guest suites or relaxing fireside with coffee and a book in any of their semi-private common areas. I’ve never felt more comfortable or at home in a hotel than I did at Teremok.
Guest Suites + Amenities
Every guest suite is designed with a unique layout, decor, mood CD, and fragrance – every last bit carefully decided upon by the owners. (Seriously, what hotel cherry picks a different fragrance for each room?)
If your budget allows, opt for a room on the upper level. The “Durban View” room, for example, is spacious, decked out in a sleek, modern, African-inspired theme with, among other things, polished concrete floors, entertainment system, king-sized bed with enough pillows to satisfy a sultan, large, private balcony with stunning views of the Indian Ocean, huge soak tub, and a stand-up shower nearly large enough to park a Mini Cooper.
All of which is relatively expected of a five-star property nowadays. But the devil is in the details … always. A hotel marketed as “upscale” quickly loses its luster when guests discover seemingly little things – peeling paint in the bathroom, overpriced wi-fi fees, ludicrous mini bar prices, guest reception calls that go unanswered, and so on.
Not so with Teremok. The three owners (Debbie Davidson and daughters Tracy Gielink and Kim Davidson) proudly declare that they’ve no background in the hospitality industry, however all are avid travelers and have used these two points to their advantage. Kim was quick to share that they opened the lodge with one simple question in mind: “What would we want in a hotel?”
And so it is that all guests are also offered:
A very extensive library of books, magazines DVDs + CDs
In-room panic button (in case of an emergency)
Free laundry + ironing service
Pool in a beautiful landscaped garden
Complimentary bicycle use
Fantastic, cooked-to-order breakfast daily (perhaps the best of any hotel I’ve ever visited)
And (most importantly) a 24/7 honor bar with an excellent selection of teas, coffee, cappuccino, soft drinks, local beer & wine, and free snacks (fruit, muffins, etc.)
Yeah … it’s the little things that keep travelers happy.
Add to the long list of amenities an onsite spa – a rather unusual offering for such a small property. But Kim promises that it’s become a destination for locals in its own right. And I’m not surprised. The spa was recently renovated in 2010 with just two individually-themed treatment rooms (Aqua and Orchid) both providing a relaxed, intimate experience inline with the hotel’s “hideaway” namesake.
Spa at Teremok Marine Lodge, South Africa
The extensive menu offers a variety of massages, facials, natural clay body wraps, holistic treatments, and spa packages (for bachelorettes, extreme makeovers, and all-day “cocoon” treatments). The hotel kindly provided me with their Teremok Signature massage – a fantastic two-hour treatment, including back, neck & shoulder massage, leg and foot pressure point massage, classic Dermalogica facial, scalp massage … and a muffin with coffee to sweeten the deal.
There’s also a retail space:
… born to give an outlet for a personal selection of items that excite and inspire the three Davidson ladies, which ranges from clothing from designers Leigh Schubert and Michelle Ludek, to LoveWaterLove costumes, Missibaba handbags, Swarvoski-studded crocodile cuff bracelets from Leather Rose, handmade sterling silver jewellery, and bottles of old fashioned sweets.
Lighthouse, Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa
Teremok is situated only a short (5-10 minute) walk from just about everything in Umhlanga Rocks, including the Umhlanga Lighthouse, Oyster Box hotel, promenade, Umhlanga Rocks village and more. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, grab your camera + hop one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles to explore the town even further. The expansive beachfront here is stunning!
Even the pricing falls into the just-right “Goldilocks” range. Considering the long list of amenities, perfect attention to detail, sweeping ocean views, onsite spa, excellent food, and exceptionally courteous staff, Teremok is one of my top five all-time favorite hotels, not just in Africa, but the world. Truly a must-visit.