[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to have author and screenwriter Karen Schaler guest posting on the site today! She’s talking all things Christmas Spirit, including her real-life Chiristmas Camp!]
If you’ve ever cozied up with hot cocoa and cookies and binge-watched Christmas movies only to be left wishing you could actually go to that magical Christmas place where there are more white twinkle lights than stars in the sky, well, I feel you. That’s why after writing my first Hallmark original movie Christmas Camp that premiered this July as part of Hallmark’s beloved Christmas in July celebration, I decided to create a real-life Christmas Camp for grown-ups that everyone could attend. I figured I was writing about the Christmas dream, so why not make that Christmas dream come true for all my fellow Christmas lovers. But I’m getting ahead of myself. To really understand how this all came about, I have to start at the beginning with what inspired me to write Christmas Camp, the movie, and then also write the novel, Christmas Camp, and the novella sequel, Christmas Camp Wedding.
I’d just finished writing the original screenplay for Netflix’s Christmas movie A Christmas Prince and was thinking about what I wanted to write about next. I got the idea of writing about someone who had lost sight of what really matters most at Christmas being sent to a Christmas bootcamp to reconnect with their holiday spirit. As soon as I started the movie script, I knew
that I not only wanted to write about a place called Christmas Camp, but I wanted to go to a Christmas Camp, and for the first time I knew I could make that happen. Now instead of just watching a Christmas movie wishing I could live that life; I could make that life real. The only thing stopping me was my own imagination and determination.
When I was writing the Christmas Camp movie and books, creating all the different characters and how their lives would intertwine, I realized how transformative a real-life Christmas Camp could be, and my goal became finding a way to recreate that experience for everyone.
In the Christmas Camp Hallmark movie and novel, one of my favorite lines is when my main character Haley is told by her boss that she needs a “holiday-attitude adjustment” and she’s sent to Christmas Camp to help her find her Christmas spirit. This Christmas Camp takes place at the charming Holly Peak Inn, which is tucked away in the snowy mountains. There, the guests enjoy heartfelt holiday activities and disconnect to re-connect with what matters most, embracing the true meaning and magic of Christmas.
Once I had imagined this Christmas world in my mind, and trademarked the concept, my next step was deciding where to hold my first Christmas Camp in real life. I’m fortunate in the fact that I’m also the creator and host of Travel Therapy TV, where I’ve traveled to more than 68 countries featuring the most inspiring and empowering places to visit. So, I knew exactly the kind of place I was looking for and reached out to The Phoenician, an award-winning AAA Five-Diamond resort in Scottsdale, AZ.
I can already hear you saying, “Arizona? For a Christmas Camp, that’s crazy?” But stay with me for a second. I can explain. First, I have a second home in Scottsdale, and I’ve always loved The Phoenician. I also knew the resort had just undergone a multi-million-dollar transformation, so I thought it could be the perfect fit for my Christmas Camp, which is all about celebrating personal transformations.
Most importantly, after meeting with the Phoenician’s management and staff, I trusted that my vision would be honored and that they all had their hearts in the right place for what I was looking to do. Going into our talk, I already had a list of activities inspired by my movie and books to help bring my Christmas Camp story to life and celebrating Arizona and the region. Anyone who knows me knows I have a strong vision, and I knew I could only bring my Christmas Camp to life if that vision was honored. The Phoenician team not only understood exactly what I wanted to do but were also able, with their award-winning experience and expertise, to help take my original concepts and ideas to a new level.
Now we’ve created a Christmas Camp that has everything from baking and culinary classes to holiday decorating, gift wrapping, and craft making to entertaining tips for making Christmas Camp cocktails, wine tastings, Christmas movie watching, stargazing and s’mores, and even signature Christmas Camp spa treatments. One of the activities I really love doing is my daily “Christmas Karen” chats. Yes, it’s true. At Christmas Camp, I’m known as “Christmas Karen,” a nickname the press gave me after I wrote three Christmas movies and three Christmas novels in the last 18 months. Honestly, I’m honored by the nickname and have promised to do my best to live up to it.
What’s so great about the daily chats is that they’re interactive, giving our Christmas Campers a chance to ask questions they have about making Christmas movies and writing Christmas novels. This also gives me a chance to share the latest projects I’m working on, like my next novel Finding Christmas, which is an entirely new heartwarming story that’s coming out October 15th. In Finding Christmas, there’s a very special holiday scavenger hunt, a Christmas town, and a darling rescue dog named Dasher.
Last year, we did a soft launch of Christmas Camp at The Phoenician, and it was so successful The Phoenician team wants to make it an annual event. I’ve already had requests from all around the world to hold my Christmas Camps. That’s something I’m very much looking forward to doing in the future, sharing the Christmas Camp love with as many people as possible.
None of this would have been possible without the amazing collaboration I’ve had working with the Phoenician’s Director of Public Relations, Denise Seomin, and public relations and marketing coordinator, Hayley Burns. We’ve all worked like Santa’s elves around the clock, creating something we hope is truly memorable. I know the entire Phoenician team is putting its whole heart into making this a world-class experience. From the owner and creative director of Brady’s Floral, Lorraine Cooper, who once decorated First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House Office and is now giving our Christmas Campers decorating tips to Chef Michelle Tarwater, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, sharing her delicious baking tips to Executive Sous Chef Rebecca Tillman’s creative culinary holiday classes and the Phoenician’s Director of Beverage and award-winning mixologist Jared Sowinski and his team who serve up daily Christmas Camp signature cocktails with holiday entertaining tips, and so much more.
I’m very thankful and humbled that this year, our first weekend, December 5-9, almost sold out in 24 hours, so we’re opening up a second weekend, December 12-16. You can come for the weekend or just one night and attend as many activities as you’d like or just relax and lounge at the pool or spa. Whatever it takes to help you find your Christmas spirit!
At Christmas Camp I actually host every single event so I can continue to be inspired by the holiday happiness and cheer that’s all around me. Christmas Camp is truly my Christmas wish come true.
About the Author:
Karen Schaler is a three-time Emmy-Award winning storyteller, screenwriter, author, producer, and TV host. She’s written Christmas movies for Netflix, Lifetime, and Hallmark. Her new novel Finding Christmas is on sale October 15th, followed by her next holiday novel coming out September 2020.
Connect with Karen:
For more on Karen Schaler’s Christmas Camp at The Phoenician:
Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler, out now!
From the writer of the Netflix sensation, A Christmas Prince, and Christmas Camp, the Hallmark movie and novel, comes a heartwarming new Christmas story, Finding Christmas, showing how sometimes the detour in your journey is the path to true love.
With all the glittering decorations, twinkling lights, snow angels, gingerbread men and mistletoe, Christmas is Emmie’s first love.
This year, she can’t wait to share her favorite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. She thinks he’s “the one.” So when Grant’s hectic work schedule has him more “Bah Humbug” than “Ho, Ho, Ho,” Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his Christmas spirit. At the end of the journey, Grant will arrive at the charming town of Christmas Point where she’s planned a romantic weekend filled with holiday activities.
But Emmie’s plan backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy following her clues! Sam, a best-selling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever Christmas riddles are from his agent, who is trying to help him get over his epic writer’s block.
When he arrives at Christmas Point and finds the stunned Emmie, he immediately feels she’s someone special, but she can’t see beyond the fact that the wrong guy has shown up. Inspired by the small, charming town, Sam decides to stay and convinces Emmie to join him in a little holiday fun while she waits for Grant.
When Grant finally shows up, Emmie is disappointed to discover he’s not enjoying the activities she planned and can’t help wonder if he’s really the one for her. She also can’t get Sam out of her mind and all the great times they had together. With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her in the direction of true love…