In the wake of the success of her 2017 Netflix hit movie, “A Christmas Prince,” author Karen Schaler was furiously writing her next Christmas story when she hit a roadblock in the plot. “Christmas Camp” centers on a holiday experience in a quaint inn and Schaler needed to do some research to see if the story was believable.
So she picked up the phone and dialed an old contact in the hospitality industry: Denise Seomin at the Phoenician resort in Phoenix.
Over the course of Schaler’s writing the book and screenplay for “Christmas Camp,” hotel staff offered advice on the plot as well as its turning point, which she says would be a spoiler if revealed.
That relationship has led Schaler to bring the “Christmas Camp” concept to life at the Phoenician this December, giving others the chance to reconnect with their holiday spirit.
‘Christmas Camp’ at the Phoenician
The book, published by a division of HarperCollins, also will eventually be released as a movie though the U.S. release date and place have yet to be announced. The story focuses on Haley, a workaholic advertising agent trying to land a large Christmas toy account. When her boss believes her bah-humbug attitude is getting in the way of his best agent landing the account, he sends her off to a little inn for “Christmas Camp” to find her Christmas spirit.
Of course, if you’ve ever seen a Christmas movie, it won’t come as a spoiler to say she also finds true love with the inn owner’s handsome son.
As Schaler was writing “Christmas Camp,” she couldn’t shake the idea that Christmas Camp should be a real thing. She decided to trademark the concept and worked with the Phoenician to bring a week-long Christmas Camp to life.
“It’s all about relaxing, rebooting, re-energizing so then you’re ready for the crazy holiday and you can let Christmas in your heart and really know what matters most,” Schaler said.
The camp takes place Dec. 7-15. Guests can book as many or few nights as they wish. Activities include making Christmas cookies, holiday cocktail mixology, painting, gift wrapping and other daily classes to get guests in the spirit. The Phoenician Spa will offer “Scents of the Season” massages and pedicures that use a special mix of frankincense and myrrh.
Schaler will be on hand for all the events and to sign books at a reception for Christmas Camp guests.
Karen Schaler’s Arizona connection
Schaler still has a home in Scottsdale nearly 10 years after she moved to New York to pursue screenwriting.
She says her jobs as an investigative reporter for KNXV-TV and KPHO-TV in Phoenix, as well as her time as a travel journalist following the footsteps of William and Katherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, helped inspire the plot of the surprise Netflix hit “A Christmas Prince.”
“I thought, how can I do a holiday fun story that has a message to take away to not judge,” Schaler said.
The film created quite the buzz in 2017. Christmas movie addicts adored the film. Others loved to hate it. Bloggers and Twitter users criticized the main character’s journalistic skills and ethics. Comedians poked fun at the plot lines.
Netflix sent out a tweet teasing the 53 fans who had watched the movie 18 days in a row.
“It just went crazy pants. And again, I was just thrilled,” Schaler said. “When you are a creative you just want to make people happy. You want people to talk about it.”
Schaler said she enjoyed some of the clever analysis and laughs off much of the criticism, saying, “It’s just a movie.” Whether people liked it or hated it, she hopes it gave them a chance to escape.
“It took them away for a moment from all the stress we have in the world. And it gave people some fun. Even if it was something to pick on, I was OK with that.”
The movie’s sequel, “A Christmas Prince: Royal Wedding,” hits Netflix on Nov. 30. Due to deadlines on two other films, the sequel was written by two other writers though Schaler’s name still appears on the film.
There’s no U.S. release date yet for “Christmas Camp” the movie. But fans don’t need to despair. Schaler also wrote a new Christmas film for Lifetime called “Every Day Is Christmas.” It stars Toni Braxton and is scheduled to air on Nov. 24.
Christmas Camp at the Phoenician
What: The Christmas Camp package starts at $259 per night double occupancy, a discount from the resort’s typical rate of $300 a night. The resort fee is $35 per night. Along with the Christmas Camp festivities, the package includes breakfast for two, a glass of Champagne and a copy of the “Christmas Camp” book.
When: Dec. 7-15.
To book: Call 800-888-8234 and ask for the Christmas Camp rate or go to www.thephoenician.com/offers/christmas-camp.