If you are thinking about doing a ski season, but are not quite sure what it's all about or what to expect, then you've come to the right place. Jobs, how to get them, what to expect, times of year, the good and the bad of ski season life – it's all here.
Here we have put together a guide covering all the common questions for first timers. this is a guide to all ski season jobs, this is not specific to our positions. Hopefully this is helpful for first timers to decide if the ski season is right for them, and if so which type of job would work.
There are a few main types of jobs that most people go for in resort. They each have their pros and cons though.
One of the most common positions in resort, and one of the most popular.
Generally your day would start bright and early, preparing and serving breakfast for the guests in your chalet. Once they head out to ski then you clean the chalet down, layout afternoon tea, and usually would be finished late morning. Then you're off until late afternoon normally, when it's time to come back to the chalet, prep the evening meals serve, cleanup and be wrapped up anywhere between 9 and 10PM. Usually there our just one or two big days work a week on changeover days, where you may work right through from breakfast to evening meal.
You will very likely be cooking. You generally don't need experience, the companies will often give you training and a set menu to work off. In a smaller chalet there will be one or two chalet hosts, and the role will often include doing all the cooking. In a larger chalet there may be a chef alongside the chalet hosts, and the chalet host role is more service and cleaning. If cooking is not your thing then there are plenty of chalet host jobs for you too..
Working in chalets is a great job for ski time, as you normally work your mornings and evenings, leaving you the afternoons to ski. A well-organised chalet host will be on the mountain six days a week. Although the wages are low the tips can be very good too.
On the downside though it'll be early mornings six days a week for a whole winter. It's a great job if you are a people person, but you are almost continually customer facing so if customer service is not your thing then this is probably not the position for you.
There are jobs in ski resorts both for qualified nannies, and unqualified staff looking to work with slightly older children. Most work is looking after babies through to end of primary school age children.
There are two main types employers – there are nannies-for-rent type companies, where a guest will rent a nanny for a week and the nanny will go to the guests chalet to look after their children whilst the parents are out skiing. The other type are specialist family ski holiday companies, who provides childcare along with the whole holiday package. These companies will often look after children up to the age of around 11, and the childcare role includes things like taking the children to and from ski school, giving them lunch, as well as organising kids activity clubs.
one of the downsides of working in childcare is you are normally working when the lifts are open, so perhaps not a career choice for those who are here first and foremost for the skiing. Skiing would often be limited to 1 or two days a week.
A qualified and skilled chef is a very sought after employee in most ski resorts, so if you have the skills and experience then you should have plenty of options.
Chalets, hotels or rent-a-chef companies are your main choices. Most restaurants have local long-term chefs, so that is less of an option.
If you are a people person and enjoy being customer facing, then chalet work can be very rewarding. usually the larger chalets will employ a chef alongside two or three chalet hosts ( who look after the service and cleaning side). There will be plenty of interaction with the clients and the tips can be excellent. Smaller chalets will often have an open kitchen. A catered chalet can be a great way for a newly qualified chef to gain his first experience. You are often left completely alone to work giving you great control and opportunity to practice your skills and have autonomy over your own menu.
As you move into larger chalets or hotels then you'll generally be in an enclosed kitchen and away from guests, a better option for those who prefer not to be customer facing whilst working. Also there are jobs like working for us in our main central kitchen which is away from guests.
Working for a rent-a-chef type company would mean that you could be cooking in a different chalet each week. Great for those who thrive on change and a challenge. But it can be very jarring for those who like a bit more predictability. each kitchen you go into would be different, and maybe lacking the tools and space you need so a lot of thinking on your feet is required.
The wages are usually better for chefs, being in demand, and often the hours worked quite well to allow ski time with work being either mornings and evenings, or evenings only.
There are plenty of driving jobs in the Alps and most companies do not require professional driving qualifications if you are driving a nine seater minibus or smaller.
There are two main driving jobs in the Alps - airport transfer driver, and in resort drivers. There are many specialist transfer companies who employ large numbers of drivers doing the main airport runs. It tends to be shift work, very busy over the weekends and airport transfer drivers get their ski time mid week.
Some more upmarket chalet companies also employ in resort drivers. These are to ferry the guests to and from the chalet to the ski slopes, and also to pick them up in the evenings from bars, restaurants et cetera. Often this is an on-call service so the work can be less predictable but at times can give good ski time depending on the needs of the guests you are looking after.
Finally there are some other driving jobs including delivery driver type positions (we ourselves employ delivery drivers to work for our meal delivery business) though these are less common.
driving jobs are popular with those who don't fancy spending ski season fully customer facing, and don't fancy spending a lot of the winter cleaning. There is some guest interaction with such a role, but it is much more limited than the fully customer service type jobs like chalet hosting or repping.
Some resorts employ resort representatives (ski reps). your job is to be the first point of contact for the guests, and to be the face of the company in your resort
You will meet and greet your guests on arrival, sometimes travelling to the airport each weekend to meet them off the plane. After showing them to their accommodation, you'll be in charge of sorting out all the lift passes, ski hire, ski lessons and alike.
During the week first and foremost you are the point of contact for the guests. You need to be very much into customer service. You are the face of the company, and any problems at all then you are the person the guests are going to come to to solve them. I would definitely advise doing your homework on any company you fancy working for, as if the service of that company isn't great then you could spend your whole season dealing with angry guests.
Then you'll often have to organise events and activities for the guests during the week – be it the first night bar crawl, or a fondue evening.
You may be part of a large team. Resort reps are often more senior staff members, so your role can involve managing people too. Equally some companies will use local hotels provide the accommodation so in some cases you may be the only employee of your ski company in that resort.
On the positives you generally get good ski time, and if the company you work for is a well oiled machine with great reviews then it can be a very enjoyable winter. On the flipside if a guest has a problem and want somebody to vent at it will be you, so you need to pick the company you work for carefully and be happy about dealing with complaints as part of your job.
A very popular job, mostly though because there are not that many jobs available. Generally you'll need to be an experienced in bar work, have done a previous season, be able to speak the local language, or a combination of them all.
Working evenings only is a big draw to bar work, allowing the enthusiastic bar staff member to hit first lifts every day of the week. Finding bar work can be difficult due to the level of competition for relatively few positions. Many bars will recruit through contacting people they know and positions are rarely advertised. You may need to contact bars and ask if they have positions as they are unlikely to advertise.
Here you would be working for a ski hire company, fixing and maintaining skis & snowboards, and doing ski fittings for their clients. There are two main types of ski hire companies here - in resort shops, and delivery ski hire companies.
Many of the delivery companies focus more on the British market and recruit English speaking staff specifically. Some are happy to take inexperienced ski techs and give you the necessary training, though you will likely need a reasonable competence in skiing and/or snowboarding.
A ski tech's job is flat out over the weekends as everybody comes and goes. mid week is their down time when they get to ski, and a common perk of the job is often the ability to borrow very good skis / snowboard occasionally from the shop to trial them.
If you are English-speaking and coming from overseas are advised trying the British ski hire companies first, normally mobile companies, as they employ the largest numbers of overseas ski tech staff. The in resort shops are often family run businesses employing family members and their own personal contacts (though is always there are no hard and fixed rules here).
Generally a ski season job includes just about everything you need, and your wages, although low, are just spending money.
Do be careful with insurance – your employer may say they give you insurance, but do check whether that only covers you for accidents at work (i.e. did not be covered if you fall over on the ski slopes)
The salary taxes in France are very high, so they can be a huge difference between net and gross salary. You want to make sure you know which applies to the figure you are being quoted.
Occasionally you will find a normal employment package, that just pays you a normal salary and you find your own accommodation, buy your own lift pass etc. Watch out for the costs of these – you are living in a very expensive ski resort. Finding accommodation can be very difficult, and whatever you find will likely be eye-wateringly the expensive. The cost of living in a ski resort is very high, everything from groceries in the local supermarket to ski equipment to lift passes. It is all vastly more expensive than living at home, so make sure you do your numbers carefully. You can often end up richer being given a very small wage but having all these costs covered.
The wages can be pretty low, often less than hundred pounds a week. That said in many positions these wages are only to buy beer at night or a new shiny pair of skis / snowboard. Tips can make a big difference, and it's well work taking that into consideration in picking your job. A transfer driver may get almost no tips at all, whereas a good chalet host may get €100 a week or more.
Lots of companies use an end of season bonus type scheme – it is common for staff members to want to leave early to start the summer season elsewhere, so do be aware if you do that you may be forfeiting a significant percentage of your wages.
The main reason people do a ski season is for the ski time. Do watch out for that when selecting your job - if you are there for the skiing, then you want a job where you work mornings, evenings or both, so you can be off during the daytime. A regular 9-to-5 is no good in the Alps, every time the lifts are open you are at work. Childcare is one to look out for, as most people want their children looked after whilst they out out skiing, so you work when the lifts are open.
Ski seasons can hold some big surprises for first timers, so this section will spin you over the normal ebb and flow of a ski season, from first week excitement to mid-season blues.
Most ski seasons run Christmas until Easter, that is the main ski season. There will often be a week or two either side for higher altitude resorts, but they will be fairly quiet weeks. Generally as a season worker you will get to your resort somewhere between mid November and early December, and finish up mid April or start of May.
Most ski season workers will roll out to resort late November or early December. When you get there the lifts will probably still be closed – they do not open until guests arrive. often you'll have a training week at the start, sometimes followed by a setup week. It is good fun and there is no pressure of having guests to look after yet. It can be fairly full on though as everything needs to be cleaned and set up ready for guests to arrive.
It will be a while until you get to ski – you can be in resort for three weeks before the lifts open.
Finally everything is set up, you know what you're doing and the guests arrive. In higher resorts guests can can be a few weeks before Christmas, though often they will be quiet weeks. In lower resorts the first week of real guests can be Christmas itself.
You will very likely be in at the deep end, left to work on your own and think on your feet. all the systems are a bit rusty, so it can be quite a bumpy time of year as everyone gets used to their new jobs - if you work in the chalet then the transfer drivers might have more problems finding your building. If you're a ski instructor then the people bringing the kids to your lesson will very likely be late and bring them to the wrong place. These are just teething problems, do bear with it, within a few weeks everything will be running like clockwork.
The first few weeks of real guests in resort can be hard, especially in resorts where your first weeks are Christmas and New Year. That peak school holiday period is full on, even for experienced seasonaires. It's all about getting through until January. Don't expect much ski time, but also don't judge the season experience on the first few weeks. They will be tough, but it will get much better. We sometimes joke that the real ski season starts the first week of January. By then you will have got into your routine, you are doing your work in half the time it used to take you, the resort suddenly gets much quieter and finally you have some good ski time.
Not everyone makes it through the first Christmas and New Year period, so if you cannot make a start the ski season then don't worry, there are always jobs appearing at this time of year.
This is low season in resort, and one of the most enjoyable times to live in the mountains. The snow is at its best, the resort is quiet, your skills should be great and work should be flowing nicely.
Usually the big school holidays kick in from the second week of February and can last for four weeks as different countries have their breaks. things will be busy in resorts, and for the peak half term week there can be some pretty hefty lift queues on the mountain. You are here all season, it's a great week to catch up on your sleep or movies during the daytime, you're here all season so there's no need to stand in queues....
As February turns into March look out for the mid-season blues – it can turninto Groundhog Day and sometimes you need to break that cycle to find the fun in it all again. Sometimes just enjoying some downtime is the perfect cure, you don't need to ski every day. For others it's trying something new. If you are a skier, then try joining a beginner snowboarder lesson, or maybe try skinning up some mountain paths.
March can be a glorious time of year - once the school holidays have passed then everything quietened down, yet the days are longer, sunnier and warmer. By the end of March into early April you can be skiing in a hoodie and enjoying long lunch breaks on a sunny terrace. Yes the snow might not be as good as January, but you cannot beat long and sunny blue sky days on the top of a mountain.
Many companies will start wrapping up before the lifts close - yes the lifts may run until mid-late April, but there are not many holidaymakers and companies start downsizing earlier than that once your last guests leave it's a couple of days up to a week clean down and packing everything up before time to head home for some well deserved R & R.
We hope you've found that all helpful. Do keep in mind that's just our own subjective guide to ski resort jobs; it's not about our jobs specifically and it's just our own personal views for what they are worth. As always though if you are thinking about one of our jobs and would like to chat further about any of the above points please just get in touch. Thank you.