Upon finding out she has contracted a deadly disease and only has three weeks to live, a shy New Orleans department store sales associate liquidates her assets and embarks upon a lavish dream vacation in the Czech Republic as a sort of final hurrah. Though the premise doesn’t exactly sound like lighthearted Christmas movie fare, 2006’s “Last Holiday” (which is currently available to rent on Amazon) is a definite feel-good tale with a jovial storyline, a charming heroine and an uplifting theme, all set against the backdrop of an idyllic winter wonderland. A remake of the 1950 Alec Guinness vehicle of the same name, the aughts version sees the eternally kindhearted Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) heading to the picturesque town of Karlovy Vary to spend her final days at the stunning Grandhotel Pupp (pronounced “grand hotel poop” – yes, “poop”).
Though the place might seem like the stuff of dreams to anyone who has seen the movie, Grandhotel Pupp is, in fact, a real lodging that can be found situated alongside the picturesque Teplá River about 80 miles west of Prague. Lavatory-related name notwithstanding, the property is a virtual dreamland fully deserving of both Georgia’s and audiences’ adoration. But, full disclosure, some portions of it were enhanced by production designer William Arnold (who was also behind the looks of “The Edge of Seventeen,” “Lovelace” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) to make it appear even more lavish onscreen.
As “Last Holiday” director Wayne Wang explained to the Arizona Republic, “I think if people went to the hotel, they would be very disappointed. It is definitely not like it is in the movie. We definitely dressed it up and did a lot of work to it. The hotel is nice but sparse.” Indeed, several online reviewers share that sentiment, noting that the place is not nearly as opulent as depicted onscreen. But if the photos on the Grandhotel Pupp website are to be believed, it is quite spectacular nonetheless!