If you dream of snow-capped mountains and bluebird days and know your way around a kitchen, then working as a chalet host could be the job for you. A full ski season out in the mountains is a dream for many that can only be achieved by pairing it with a seasonaire job. But what is it really like working as a chalet host?
I worked the 2014/15 winter season in Les Gets, France. This small mountain resort is part of the large Portes du Soleil ski area. I worked alongside my boyfriend in the same chalet, and we were lucky in that respect as some hosts will work alone. Our chalet could accommodate 12 people so it was a decent size. The chalet was in walking distance to the main ski lifts which worked out fantastically for us and the guests.
Our home for the season
Chalet Host Responsibilities
Being a chalet host will definitely keep you busy! Here is a rough list of tasks we had to complete each day:
- Wake up at 7 am to set up cold breakfast buffet and table
- Cook and serve hot breakfast option
- Help guests with ski related queries/getting guests to their lessons
- Clear breakfast and make a cake for afternoon tea
- Clean and tidy the guest’s rooms and common areas of the chalet
- Start prepping dinner
- Set up the afternoon tea table for guests for when they get back from skiing
- Go ski!
- Serve and clear afternoon tea
- Prepare the rest of the evening meal
- Light fires and set table for dinner
- Serve the kids meal earlier (which was usually something different to the adults)
- Clear this and serve drinks
- Serve the 3-course evening meal
- Clear and tidy the dining room
- Sleep/go out!
The Best Bits of Working as a Chalet Host
The very best thing about this job was that it allowed you to live in a mountain resort and ski 4-5 days of the week. Your skiing or snowboarding will likely improve and you will get to know the best areas to go. The Portes du Soleil area with its 600 km of pistes and quick and convenient link to the resorts of Morzine and Avoriaz and its link to Switzerland meant we were never bored. We could typically ski for 3-4 hours a day at the start of the season, improving to 5-6 hours a day once we mastered the routine and workload. Chalet hosts get one day off a week and it will usually be a week day. This is obviously the best day of the week to spend however you wish! Guests will go out to eat that evening.
The job will cover everything you need, for example, our package included:
- accommodation in the chalet (some chalet hosts live in shared accommodation away from their chalet)
- lift pass
- food and drink including some alcohol
- travel to and from the UK and the resort
- ski hire
So although we worked out we only got about 10gbp/day in wages, you get all your main living expenses covered.
A good incentive to work as a chalet host over any other resort job is that you get the best tips! At the end of each week, we received between 140-200euros in tips. Apart from our very last week when we recieived 20 and chocolate bar, but I guess you can’t win them all!
We had some groups that we really got on with, so some evenings we took them into town to show them the best bars. This worked in our favour as we got plenty of drinks bought for us, so bear this in mind!
Meeting great people
You will meet and work with some awesome likeminded people, who you will spend your days up the mountain with and the evenings drinking with! Also working in resort means you will get invited to the best parties.
The Not as Good Bits of Working as a Chalet Host
First and foremost, it is very hard work. The work is never really done when you are running a chalet. Hands down the busiest day of the week is changeover day when your guests for that week leave and the new ones arrive. We had a few hours to completely strip all the bedrooms and bathrooms and set them up again, and of course, everything must be cleaned to a high standard.
Dealing with difficult guests
Each week you will get a list of the guests and any dietary requirements. You will be lucky to get a week where the group is all adults with no vegetarians/vegans/gluten free. Of course, they will be catered for, it just means an extra meal to prepare for the chalet host! Children also are offered different meals.
As great as some guests can be, it’s unlikely that every group will be as lovely! Just do the job at hand and then go out. People who go on holiday together can sometimes fall out, and sometimes you might get caught in the crossfire! My boyfriend once got pulled into an argument between two drunken friends, when all he was trying to do was clear the table!
Also, as you will be the main link between the company and the customers, any problems or complaints that arise will be directed to you.
Working as a Chalet Host: What do you need?
To work as a chalet host you will need to be comfortable in the kitchen. Serving breakfast, afternoon tea and a 3-course evening meal to 12 people every day is a heavy workload. You need to be able to communicate with customers and deal with any problems. You need to be prepared to work hard all season, but also to enjoy it and ski loads!
If you don’t think your cooking skills are quite up to scratch, you can attend a chalet host cooking course which will help you hone your abilities. Employers will also like it if you have attended one of these courses so it will help you land the perfect job in the mountains!
You don’t need to know how to ski or board, but that is seen as a positive to employers. It shows you have a real motivation to stick out the entire season.