After the madness of revising relentlessly for finals, a season spent in the mountains can seem like the only antidote. Give yourself a much-needed break from the books, soak up copious amounts of mountain air and hit the slopes every day... what's not to love?
Chalet hosting is an ideal seasonal role for powder hounds and social butterflies, as you’ll have most of the day to ride, and get to meet some interesting guests along the way. If you don’t mind scrubbing bogs and baking cakes, then this could be the role for you. Here are our highs and lows of chalet hosting...
Rack up the snow hours
If you’re quick to finish your morning duties of breakfast, cleaning and preparing afternoon tea - then the mountain is yours. You can be on the slopes as early as 11am and ride until last lift. There’s even time to slurp down a few après-shots before starting work again around 6pm.
Rad riding crew
As a chalet host - you’ll undoubtedly have plenty of pals as riding buddies. Since most companies have at least a couple of chalets in the resort, you’re likely to have an instant crew on arrival. Unlike normal colleagues, they’ll see you through the highs (and many lows) of season life. You’ll share several van chauds and beer pêches together, stay out until all hours and then get up to serve breakfast bright and early. You’ll probably snog at least three of them, and create the most wonderful ski stories of pristine powder days. These guys will soon match up to uni mates, remaining friends well past the end of the season.
Alcohol on tap
The unlimited wine you’ll have access to will certainly ease the working hours away in the evening, plus help you get fired up for the bars. With drinks in the Alps costing a small fortune, it’s best to utilise the chalet’s facilities as much as you can.
Food fit for royalty
Expect to eat like a king or queen as many companies factor in chalet staff meals to be the same as the guests. Save money by eating breakfast and dinner in the chalet, and if you’re particularly stealthy, you can make a nifty cheese sandwich for a chairlift lunch. Often you’re in charge of setting out afternoon tea, so prepare to consume a large proportion of your bodyweight in cake. This might sound great to begin with. However, this rolls right into the negative aspects of the job...
You can have too much of a good thing
Although having pan-fried duck and panna cotta on tap might seem like a luxury for the first month, by the fifth week of eating the same menu on repeat, you’ll feel sick to your stomach at the very thought of it. Plus as you’re cooking the same meal, tasting it for months on end, you tends to lose the ability to swallow it down. You’ll be hankering for some variety in your diet by the end of the season. Lusting after a crunchy carrot is an unexpected side effect of the role.
Another unsavoury joy of the job. Expect to see some sordid sights. You’ll be privy to all the client’s intimate details: used condoms under the bed, skid marks in the bathroom and everything else in between. After a while you won't bat an eyelid at the sights and smells - nothing will shock you!
You’re also a figurative punching bag for anything that can go wrong. Expect blame for things that are totally out of your control, such as: “I didn’t get the room I wanted” or, “why hasn’t it snowed?” All part and parcel of the chalet-hosting life.
The worst of all? The pitiful pay - it’s akin to slave labour. Some chalet hosts are on a paltry €2 an hour, palmed off with the fact it’s a ‘life-style job’. You’ll start to rue the day you spent so many hours swotting up at Cambridge for that degree in astro-physics.
It may seem that being a chalet host is probably best for just a single season. After all, it involves a lot of work, for little pay with early starts and late nights. Yet, many do return, season after season. Although you won’t emerge wealthy from a chalet hosting season, you do make a mountain of memories. And when you take into account those indelible ski moments, along with the unbeatable buddies you’ll make, you can see why it’s easy to keep returning to the role.