It’s one of the best jobs for anyone who is crazy about skiing or snowboarding – working a winter season as chalet staff in the Alpine ski resorts. Traditionally this was a role undertaken by women only and the staff were known as “chalet girls” but times have changed and now just as many men are taking the opportunity to pack up their skis and head off to France or Switzerland for the winter.
Each company which offers jobs for chalet staff has different requirements, so it’s important to check any job adverts carefully before applying. Make sure that you apply for a CRB/DBS Check before you start. Many of the more upmarket chalets employ their own chef, so the chalet staff assist the chef in preparing meals, help the guests with anything they might need, and undertake housekeeping duties such as cleaning and changing beds. In smaller chalets there may be just one member of staff responsible for all of the cooking and cleaning. The hours are long, but once the breakfast has been served, the chalet cleaned and the guests departed for their day on the slopes, chalet staff may have two or three hours free to ski themselves before returning to the chalet to prepare afternoon tea or dinner. It’s hard work and long hours, but the job comes with free accommodation, food and a small salary.
Chalet staff are notoriously poorly paid, and people taking the opportunity to work a winter season are doing so because of the lifestyle. Chalet staff typically earn around £100 per week, but don’t have to pay for accommodation or food. In order to attract the best staff, some companies will pay flights out to the resorts at the start of the season, and will offer lift passes and ski hire as part of the deal. Employees may also be offered medical insurance as part of the package which is worth having; travel insurance policies and EHIC cards may not cover people on extended stays overseas, or for sports like skiing which are often classed as dangerous.
Finding A Job
The internet is the best place to research chalet staff vacancies, and all of the big companies will advertise online for staff. The season generally runs from the end of November through until Easter, depending on the resort, so recruitment and training takes place through the summer and early autumn. In order to land a job as chalet staff you’ll need to prove that you’re reliable, trustworthy and organised, and if you have catering or cooking experience that is another point in your favour. Languages are another advantage, although if you take a job with one of the main British ski companies, you’ll be mainly dealing with British guests. And it goes without saying that a love of skiing and a good sense of humour are also essential.
What About Summer?
Some chalet staff finish a winter season in the Alps, and then head off to the warmer Mediterranean to take a summer position as a holiday rep. The majority though head back to the UK for a summer working in temporary positions, before doing it all again the next year.