Job Profile: Life as a Ski Chalet Host
Every year, without fail, the jobs that receive the biggest response are those posted by companies seeking chalet hosts for the coming ski season. It doesn't matter whether the host is required to work in one of the mega resorts in the heart of the French Alps, or at a small family-run chalet, somewhere a bit more off the beaten track; people send us their CVs as though we are advertising the best job in the world. And you know what; we are!
Last year we send one company over six hundred CVs for a single chalet host vacancy, and this year we have already had someone ask us to demote their job listing as they have enough applications, after just five days! The popularity of this role is not unexplainable; working as a ski chalet host is an absolutely fantastic way to spend your winter and the following job profile will show you why.
Having and sticking to a well ordered routine will make your daily life as a chalet host far less stressful than if you are always rushing around at the last minute. Remember that transfer day, when guests leave and new guests arrive is the toughest day of the week. If you have ever sold a house and got it ready for viewings then you will know how hard you have to work on transfer day! You'll figure out what works best for you when you get started, but based on advice from the ski companies we help find candidates for, a typical day in the life of a chalet host would go something like this.
Long days make waking up one of the most difficult and least enjoyable parts of being a chalet host, especially if you are not a morning person. Trouble is, a chalet host's day begins early and any job profile that tells you otherwise isn't telling the truth. No matter how disciplined you were the night before, there is always a bit more tidying up to be done before getting the breakfast ready. Allow a good hour to get everyone fed and out of your hair so that you can tidy the kitchen and prepare food for the afternoon pit stop.
Your guests should soon be out of the door and at this point you can clear up the bathroom, tidy the bedrooms, and generally make the place look nice again. If you are good, you should be able to get out on the slopes yourself by about 11am.
The normal British meal routine doesn't apply in the Alps. Breakfast is pretty standard. Guests will sort themselves out at lunch time, before heading back to the chalet for a cake break, or afternoon tea. And the main meal is served quite late, rather than their knees while they watch EastEnders! The first part of your afternoon is about the easiest part of your day, but think of it as the calm before the storm that is the evening meal.
If you think a quick steak and some oven chips will fill them up, you may be right, but that's not what they have paid for. Think three course meal with canapés and aperitif and you will be closer to what you are expected to cook every night of the week. Don't worry though, you will soon get the hang of it and the evening meal will quickly become part of the chalet routine. You should be done and cleared up by about ten, leaving you free to choose between an early night or a late one out on the tiles.
Tips and Advice
Check the job description for any age restrictions, especially if you are young. Quite a few jobs will require you to be at least 21 years old. For some companies, employing slightly older and arguably more responsible hosts for their chalet lessens the risk of getting someone who is just looking for a twenty four hour party. Yet the main reason for this age restriction is insurance. Some countries are unwilling to offer insurance to drivers under the age of 21. This becomes an insurmountable hurdle if driving is a requirement of the role, hence the age restriction on the application form.
Unless you are in a large chalet complex that employs a chef as a dedicated role, chances are you are going to be doing some cooking. The ski chalet experience revolves around location and surroundings, interior comfort, and food. You cannot influence the first one, you will be involved in the upkeep of the second, but the third is squarely down to you.
Food is very important to the success of a chalet and its reputation, so if you can dish out great food several times a day, you stand a good chance of landing a chalet host job. If on the other hand you don't know a skillet from a wok, you may like to look at enrolling on a chalet cookery course. Generally lasting a couple of weeks, they are great value for what you get in return, and around 50% of CVs we receive for chalet hosts include details of a cookery course the applicant has completed.
If you are applying for a chalet job with a company that operates in more than one resort or more than one country, make sure you take into account that you may not find out where you are going to be working until the last minute. It may not be important to you, but we have heard stories of people not finding out where they will spend the next six months of their life until they are already travelling out.
Do you know whether the job you are applying for includes accommodation? Quite a few companies don't mention this in their job profile descriptions. You may have live-in accommodation, or you may have to arrange some yourself when you get out there. It's unlikely you won't be given any help, but worth checking in advance.
Best bit – knowing that all of your friends back home would gladly swap your office and working environment every day of the week.
Worst bit – the pay isn't the greatest, especially for the long, six day working week.