For someone who had never skied before, working in a ski chalet was an odd move for me. Both Tim and I had only been back from Asia for two weeks when he saw the job vacancy. By the time he asked me what I thought, itchy feet syndrome had already kicked in. “Let’s do it”, I said.
The company we worked for specialised in ski holidays in the French Alps for small and large groups. They were advertising for a chalet couple to start immediately to replace staff who had handed in their notice. Two days later and a Skype interview down, we were sitting at London Stansted airport waiting for our flight to Morzine.
On the face of it, chalet hosting seems like the perfect job. The wages might be small but you’re able to stay in a beautiful lodge for free and have your food and lift passes paid for. All that is asked of you in return is that you keep the chalet tidy and look after the guests. Piece of cake right?
The most important thing to remember when you sign up to do a ski season is that it is not a long holiday. In order to reap the benefit from working a ski season, you will have to work. And you will have to work HARD. Chalet hosting was something I had very little knowledge of, so it wasn’t a surprise that the whole experience was completely daunting. Starting halfway through the season, it was fair to say we were running before we had learnt to walk.
For most traditional chalet hires, there will be at least a week of training to give you time to get to grips with the area and see what is expected of you. If your role will include cooking, you will be given guidance around the menu during this introductory week. In our case, this meant shadowing the previous chalet hosts over four days and a lot of on the job learning!
You can kiss goodbye to lie-ins as you’ll probably be required to work six days a week and be up around 6 am to cook breakfast for your guests. This will be followed by baking a cake for the afternoon and cleaning the entire chalet. It is only after this when you will be able to make time for a few hours on the mountain. It’s then back to the chalet for the evening to prepare and host a four-course meal for your guests. For more about chalet routine, check out what a day in the life of a chalet host is like.
Chalet hosting requires a lot of patience with yourself and your co-host. Refining your cleaning technique so you can be out on the slopes by 11 am takes practice and hard work! If you are chalet hosting as a part of a couple you need to be aware that the job will put a strain on your relationship. Everyone needs space and it can be quite difficult to get that when you live and work together, especially in a stressful environment.
In my opinion, the best part of being a chalet host is the people you meet. Nothing is better than having friendly guests who you really click with. That said the people can also be the worst part of chalet work. Unfortunately, you will always get some guests that are downright difficult and rude. Working with people like this can be bad enough – now imagine you have to live with them too.
This is not to say that ski chalet hosting is all work and no play. The job offers fantastic opportunities to develop your skills on the mountain for nearly five months of the year. The improvement that can be made in this time can amount to a lifetimes worth of snow holidays. Your ski/board rental is free and if like I was you are a complete novice, you can cram in some lessons at a discounted rate.
As with anything in life, what you get out of a ski season is what you put in. If you’re keen to experience the seasonaire lifestyle and you’re not afraid to work hard, then sharpen up your CV and get applying. Working a season is an incredible experience and you never know; you might end up being one of the ones who can’t stay away.
Have you ever worked in a ski chalet?
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