HOLLY, MI – The historic Holly Hotel in Holly, MI, served as the set for a Christmas romantic comedy film titled Christmas at the Holly Hotel, but six months later, the hotel was nearly destroyed in a June 21 fire, The Detroit News (TDN) reported.
“The Hallmark-style film, produced by Michigan-native Joel Resig, follows a woman returning home for Christmas as she reconnects with her family, embarks on a new career path and falls in love,” TDN reported, adding that “it first hit theaters and streaming platforms on Nov. 27, and has since been streamed on YouTube more than 500,000 times, said Chrissy Kutlenios, who owns the hotel with her husband, George.”
“Resig said he met the Kutlenioses after performing stand-up at the comedy club in the basement of their hotel,” TDN reported.
“I shot another film there (the Holly Hotel), just one scene, and it’s a beautiful restaurant,” Resig told TDN. “It’s very historic, quaint. It looks like a Hallmark movie already, so I thought if they’re on board, I’ll do this movie here.”
“The filming process only took seven days, five of which was filmed in the hotel,” TDN reported, noting that “Resig said about 75% of the movie was filmed in the hotel.”
“Despite the June 21 fire that almost destroyed the hotel, George Kutlenios said he hopes renovations will be completed by summer,” TDN reported, adding that “to support the renovations of the hotel and ‘The Streets of Old Detroit’ exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum, which suffered from a flood last year, the museum will host a holiday benefit on Dec. 16 featuring dinner and a movie. There also will be a matinee screening of the film on Dec. 18.”
“Rebecca Salminen-Witt, chief strategy and marketing officer at the Detroit Historical Museum, saw an advertisement earlier this fall for the movie premiere,” TDN reported, noting that “when tickets sold out in minutes, she believed the museum would be the perfect location to offer a screening.”
“When Salminen-Witt met with George Kutlenios to discuss the possibility of hosting a movie screening, the two drew parallels between the hotel and the museum,” TDN reported.
“They have an area in the hotel that’s called their arcade and it was inspired by ‘The Streets of Old Detroit’ here at the Detroit Historical Museum way back in the ’70s,” Salminen-Witt told TDN. “We thought, boy, that’s an interesting history that nobody really knows about and maybe we can use that history and turn these couple of screenings into a benefit for the hotel… and also for ‘The Streets of Old Detroit.’”
“We were really excited about that connection and just being able to kind of explore that through these couple of events in December here,” she told TDN.
“The Kutlenioses founded the hotel 43 years ago,” TDN reported, adding that “over the years, the building has been used as a movie set in many films, such as ‘Mary’s Buttons’ and ‘In the Line of Fire,’ and the filming process is always exciting to watch, said Chrissy Kutlenios.”
“There’s a scene in the movie where there’s a big high-end dinner party and the president of the United States comes to this dinner party at the Holly Hotel, which is true because President Bush actually came to the Holly Hotel in 1994, and so the movie kind of simulated that whole thing,” she told TDN.
Kutlenios also noted the hotel’s “warm and welcoming atmosphere,” TDN reported.
“You walk in, and you smell cinnamon and cloves, and the lights, it feels like Christmas,” she told TDN. “The producer of this movie really captured what we’ve always done for 47 years is when you walk in: there’s no TVs, there’s Christmas music, and we say Merry Christmas… It was really nice that he captured those feelings in the movie.”
Due to the fire this year’s Christmas tradition will have to be skipped, but Chrissy Kutlenios told TDN “there is solace for me in knowing that we will have our doors open next holiday season, God willing.”
The ‘Christmas at the Holly Hotel’ special screening dinner and a movie benefit takes place Friday, December 16, 5:30-9 PM, at the Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Tickets are available online: https://bit.ly/3W5EASC.
Tickets for the matinee screening on Sunday, December 18, 2-4 PM, at the Detroit Historical Museum are also available online: https://bit.ly/3j08rO5.