(I wrote this article last year for Adventure Animals, but unfortunately the website never went live. As I’m feeling seriously nostalgic for seasonaire life I decided to go ahead and publish the articles on here, in the hope that it will inspire people to have some of the incredible experiences that I have had over the past few years. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch!)
With Europe currently experiencing the highest snowfall we’ve seen in 18 years, you’ll probably be feeling more reluctant than ever to drag yourself off the slopes when your holiday is over this year.
So how about making sure that next time you don’t have to? The Alps offer thousands of opportunities for ski bums young and old to spend 5 months doing what they love best. Maybe it’s time you took a career break…
Moving to a foreign country to find work can be a bit daunting, so here is a rundown of the most popular jobs available, and how to get them.
Who is it for? Mostly people called Hugo or Clarissa. Generally gap year students.
What does it entail? Babysitting your guests. Feeding them breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner six days a week, following a set menu that will be provided for you at training. Keeping the chalet clean and being at the beck and call of your guests.
Pros? Probably the best job as far as ski time is concerned. After serving breakfast and cleaning rooms you can usually be out by 10, and you don’t have to come back until 5 if you leave a cake out. You can probably live off your tips.
Cons? Early starts and poor wages. Unless you manage to land a private chalet, most are run by tour operators who pay about 100£ a week, but provide you with food, shared accommodation, lift passes and uniforms.
Who is it for? Those who are looking for a step up from chalet hosting. You usually need to speak the language and some companies (weirdly) only employ graduates.
What does it entail? Everything from cleaning rooms, to checking people in, to working in the bar/restaurant. Often all in one day!
Pros? Wages are better, especially if you are on a French or Swiss contract. If you land night shifts you can also have great ski time. If you’re lucky/thrifty you can live off your tips and save your wages for the summer.
Cons? You could end up cleaning all day. Scrubbing toilets while everyone else is out in the snow might actually be worse than staying at home…
Who is it for? Bubbly extroverts who worked as club reps in uni.
What does it entail? Meeting guests at the airport, daily drop-in hours at hotels/chalets, dealing with complaints, organising bar crawls/pub quizzes.
Pros? Lots of socialising. Looks good on your CV.
Cons? Lots of socialising.
Who is it for? People who know how to change a tyre and follow a Sat Nav.
What does it entail? Waiting around in airports, carrying people’s bags, driving in the snow. Getting stuck in the snow. Changing tyres in the snow. Drivers are sometimes expected to do some maintenance work as well.
Pros? Not getting cabin fever from being stuck on the mountain for 5 months. Good tips.
Cons? Early starts, late finishes, first point of contact for grumpy, delayed guests.
Who is it for? Party animals who can handle being fed shots by their boss nightly.
What does it entail? Dishing out a lot of Jagerbombs. Probably wearing some kind of novelty costume at some point.
Pros? Pretty much every day free to ski. Free drinks. Everyone wanting to be friends with you (for free drinks)
Cons? You’ll probably always be too hungover to ski.
Who is it for? Well, professional chefs obviously. Lesser mortals can find work as assistants, KPs or pot-washers.
What does it entail? Long hours, stress.
Pros? Decent wages. Good food. Potentially days free to ski.
Cons? Not much free time, demanding clients with strange requests.
Who is it for? People with childcare qualifications or experience.
What does it entail? Looking after rich kids while their parents go skiing or partying.
Pros? Being paid (pretty well) to play in the snow with kids.
Cons? Putting up with spoilt brats while everyone else is out skiing. Constant fear of losing/breaking said brat.
The dream jobs…
Musicians and DJs have the golden ticket when it comes to ski seasons. Bars are always looking for acts for apres ski, and you can fill your afternoons/nights touring bars and terraces, or even going from resort to resort.
People with skills or qualifications such as beauty, massage or physio therapists have some of the best paid seasonal jobs, and are amongst the lucky few that don’t have to scrub toilets at some point during the day.
So how do you get a job?
People usually start applying at the end of the summer for winter jobs, but with people often breaking limbs, struggling with Christmas stress or just deciding that seasonnaire life isn’t for them, lots of jobs tend to open up in January and as the season goes on.
Apply to tour operators
Companies like Crystal, Neilson, Skibound etc. recruit on a huge scale in the UK, with assessment days across the country. If you’re prepared to stand up and try to sell a pen in front of a room full of people then this is your move. These companies also take care of travel arrangements/permits etc.but you probably will end up on a 20 hour coach ride.
Apply to businesses/ companies in resorts
Often the best option is to apply to companies based in the country you want to work in, so that you can avoid being on a UK contract (this is how tour operators get away with paying such scandalously low wages) You can do this by looking at vacancies on websites such as skijobs.co.uk,seasonworkers.com, or the seasonnaires bible- natives.com. Alternatively if you already know which resort you want to work in, you can search for seasonnaires Facebook groups, for example ‘Courchevel seasonaires.’
Turn up in resort
This option isn’t for everyone, but if you’re pretty laid back, and have some savings to keep you going, then you might want to just rock up and try your luck. This is the best option if you already have friends in resort that you can crash with. Most of the time people prefer to hire somebody that they’ve already met, and a recommendation by a mutual friend goes a lot further than a wordy CV. Sadly your visa status is the biggest deal breaker in this case (this mainly applies if you’re not an EU citizen, or if you want to work in Switzerland.)
Tips for your application
Be friendly and bubbly, even if you’re not. Being approachable and most importantly, being able to chat about skiing goes a long way.
Be aware of seeming overqualified, and just tell people what is relevant to your application. A good degree from a top university apparently doesn’t give the message that you’ll be a fun-loving bartender.
Emphasise your practical skills and most importantly your willingness to adapt to different situations (I.e. Problems) as that is what you’ll mostly be doing in whatever season job you end up with!
Remember, seasons never run smoothly. There is always a nightmare boss, a lazy co-worker or a crazy roommate (or even all three!) But no matter how much they might get you down, the moment you glide off that chairlift, your troubles will melt away quicker than a slice of Raclette!