Bagged yourself a ski chalet host job and now freaking out that you’ll be rubbish at it? Fear not! When I first started chalet hosting, I had no idea what I was doing. Let my mistakes be your gain! Grab a hot chocolate and settle in as I am going to share all of my top chalet host tips.
Despite the amazing perks that come with being a chalet host, it is not an easy job and there will undoubtedly be moments when you feel totally out of your depth. Follow my advice and you’ll go from a blundering beginner to a successful seasonaire, in only a few weeks.
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12 Chalet Host Tips to Surviving Your Ski Season
1. Be organised
Being a chalet host is the ultimate job in organisation. In most catered chalets, you’ll be responsible for cooking, cleaning, housekeeping, shopping and budgeting so you’ll need to be very organised if you are going to grab some time on the mountain.
It can help to keep a to-do list of your main jobs throughout the week. I worked as one half of a chalet couple with my partner and we found that jotting down a dinner service timeline was really useful and helped us to nail cooking times.
Another useful tip is to stay on top of your stock. Make a note of things you need as soon as you run out so you don’t get caught short. Writing a list throughout the week makes life much easier when it comes to shopping and ordering in essentials.
2. Ask for help
The first few weeks in a chalet host job can be very accurately described as ‘hitting the ground running’. With so much to learn, often in an open plan kitchen and with an audience of very hungry guests, it is no wonder that things can be stressful.
No matter whether you’re a solo chalet girl/guy or one half of a chalet hosting couple, it will take you time to refine your techniques and master the job. If you’re finding something difficult, ask for help. The chalet manager is normally very good at tackling logistical difficulties and can advise you on how to deal with bad guests. Your fellow seasonaires can offer you tips about cooking and housekeeping.
3. Prepare food in the morning
Juggling so many tasks means that you’ll need to be organised. One of the best ways to do this is to get up early. In most chalet hosting jobs, you’ll be required to serve guests breakfast and dinner, while also providing afternoon tea.
If you can bear to get up at 5 or 6 am, you will be rewarded. Once you’ve sorted breakfast, start on afternoon tea by baking your cake. You can also chop and peel any vegetables that you might need for the evening meal. Many cold desserts such as lemon tart can be made in advance, as well as panna cotta.
Getting up at the crack of dawn will feel like a wrench at first but you’ll quickly get used to it and you’ll have much more time to spend on the slopes!
4. Cook in bulk and freeze
Some of the highest pressure situations can be found in the chalet kitchen. To eliminate as much stress as possible, cook in bulk whenever you can and freeze any extra portions.
This is especially useful when you are catering for people with dietary requirements. Vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free peeps may require different meals from the rest of your guests.
By having a stockpile of these ready-made and frozen, you won’t have to worry about cooking multiple different mains, starters and desserts on the same day.
5. Keep smiling
First impressions count, especially in a job like this. A warm welcome for guests is the first checkbox that you can tick the second that somebody arrives. In my opinion, a friendly face is the most important thing about chalet hosting.
Make sure you are approachable and keep smiling, even when you’re stressed. If your guests like you, you will find that they are far more accommodating when things go wrong! Dinner schedule running late? Happy guests are much more likely to be flexible.
6. Put in the time
Working in a ski chalet will mean that you are able to meet all kinds of different people from across the world. Many of them will be very interesting and could even end up being your friends, long after you leave the mountains!
Make the effort to get to know the people who come to stay at your chalet. Find time to chat with the adults after the dinner service and play with the children when you get a minute. This will create a great impression.
While money isn’t the be-all and end-all, good tips are always appreciated by chalet hosts. If you put in the time to get to know your guests, you will find that they are more likely to leave a generous tip. Always remember that friendly and attentive chalet hosts can be the difference between a good holiday and a great one.
7. Be professional
Let’s be clear, staying in a ski chalet is not cheap. Many of your guests will expect the best possible service and may view you as ‘the help’, put there to serve their every whim. I’ll be frank here, not everyone who stays at your chalet will be a nice person. You may meet people who you think are unreasonable and downright rude which can be challenging to deal with.
In these instances, always stay professional. Remember to be friendly and flexible whenever you can. Even if you believe a request is annoying, you should try to assist. If you think the guests are really taking advantage and not behaving appropriately, speak to your chalet manager.
It can be hard to be nice to people you really don’t like – just ask anybody who works in customer service! When you feel yourself getting really stressed, just remind yourself that their holiday won’t last forever.
8. Pay attention to detail
Guests love it when chalet hosts personalise the service they offer. If you can, try to remember the guests’ names and always make note of any dietary requirements when people first arrive. In most chalets, this information will be provided in advance but stuff can still get missed!
Make sure to take into account any specific notes about the people coming to stay. For example, if you know your guests have booked their ski holiday in honour of something (e.g. a milestone birthday or honeymoon) congratulate them! These little things make a huge difference to your guests’ overall experience.
While it is of course important to be friendly and welcoming, you should not impose yourself on guests. While some people love a chat after a day on the slopes, other people prefer their own company. Find out which type of guests you have and respond accordingly.
9. Work in a team
If you are working for a company that own a few chalets (most of them do), get to know the staff and support team. You are just one cog in the machine and working together with the other chalet staff and the admin team will help you run a smoother operation.
Chalet companies sometimes arrange social events for staff so you’ll likely spend a lot of your free time with people working for the same place. It is not unusual for chalet hosts to pitch in and help on big changeover days in other chalets either so get ready to muck in when needed. Hanging out with the other hosts is usually fun and you never know when you might need a hand in return!
10. Budget carefully
When you first arrive for the season, it is good to make sure you have some money behind you. It doesn’t have to be a lot but payday can feel a long way away when you first arrive! While you might get left tips by guests, you shouldn’t rely on these too much initially.
11. Don’t panic
We’ve all had those days where everything seems to go wrong, no matter what you do. It can be easy to be down on yourself when you’re stressed out but, in reality, this achieves nothing.
When faced with a problem it is important to keep a clear head and try to find a solution. Call on your fellow chalet hosts and manager if the circumstances require external support. If the situation cannot be saved, explain the problem calmly to your guests and apologise for the inconvenience. Most people will understand, after all, we all make mistakes!
12. Get the balance right
Being passionate about doing the best job you possibly can help to make you a great chalet host. However, being good at the job isn’t all that you should be getting out of a season.
Remember what it was that drew you to chalet hosting in the first place. I’ll bet it wasn’t perfecting your soufflé!
Try to streamline your schedule to maximise your free time. Use your chalet host perks to get up the mountain and sharpen your skills on your skis or board. You know what they say, all work and no play makes for a dull chalet host!
Have you ever tried working as a seasonaire? What are your best chalet host tips?