We hate to break it to you, but the film ‘Chalet Girl’ doesn’t exactly depict the most accurate account of what it is like to be a Chalet Host! In actual fact, it is a lot of hard work, with often long days and plenty of cleaning – but it’s also great fun, you’ll make new friends…but you probably wont end up a professional snowboarder by the end of your season (sorry Chalet Girl!)
If you’ve always wanted to do a ski season, but don’t know where to start, we have a few ideas that will help you along the way to becoming a successful host. Ultimately, a huge part of the role is down to personality and how you will interact with guests – hosts need to be friendly, smiley and always keen to chat to guests at the end of a long day on the slopes. But there are a few other things you can do to give you a head start and really set you up to become the best Chalet Host in the Alps.
First, it’s really important to get as much hospitality experience as you can from as early as you can. It’s a great idea to pick up work in cafes and restaurants doing waitressing, but try securing a role for catering companies where you will be doing silver service events and functions, or try and make sure you are working in a high end establishment to get used to the type of service you will be expected to provide in a chalet. Even better, housekeeping experience will stand you in very good stead for chalet work. You will spend a huge amount of your time on a winter season changing bed sheets and sorting linen, so previous work in a hotel, bed and breakfast or similar will give you some much needed experience.
Do you need to do a cookery course? In short, no you don’t NEED one. However it can be beneficial for some ski companies as you may be required to step in on occasion to help cover in the kitchen, or (depending on the chef you are working with) they may ask you to help wealth prepping breakfast or dinner. Or you never know, you may even become Chief Cake-Baker of the chalet, so any cooking skills you have acquired will help. If you are looking for a role that combines both hosting AND cooking (we call these roles cook/host positions), you will definitely need more than just a cookery course to give you the right level of experience. Ideally you will also have at least 6 months experience in a professional cooking environment to give you enough skills and knowledge to produce a three-course dinner party-style menu each night. Cookery courses are helpful not just for the basic skills they teach you, but also as they usually explain how the role of a Chalet Host generally works, what will be expected of you, and what your role will entail for 5 months. So if you are thinking about doing a course, go ahead…and keep your eyes peeled for our guide to the top cookery schools coming in a blog post soon.
It also always helps to get some life experience! Go travelling, try out a few different jobs, study…a lot of our clients want hosts who are a bit older and haven’t just come straight from college into their first real job. This way, you will have more interesting things to chat to your guests about, you might find you are more comfortable around guests (and colleagues) of different ages, and you will most likely appreciate your time in the mountains a lot more.
Once you’ve done all that, you’ll need to secure yourself a job! There are plenty of job boards out there where you can find hosting roles all over the Alps. They are updated regularly with new roles, so browse every few days for the latest vacancies. Natives or Ski Jobs is a good place to start…or if you need some help, come to Silver Swan and let us help you find the best hosting role for you. We know our clients really well and will always try and match you to the role that we think you will be best suited for. We are already recruiting for this winter, so if you are thinking about a season as a Chalet host, browse our vacancies here, or send through your CV to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.
Whilst you wait for the winter season to start, you could always get yourself some ski lessons (if you’ve never skied before) so you know what to expect when you get out there. There are a few indoor ski slopes across the UK including The Snow Centre in Hemel Hemstead and Snozone in Milton Keynes – places like this are great to get some initial lessons to build up your legs, and ensure you are not a complete novice when hitting the slopes for the first time in December! You can usually book individual lessons or a block course, so you’ll be snow-ploughing in no time. Most centres also have small parks with ramps and jumps too, so if you’re feeling particularly daring you can practice catching some air…or maybe save that until you’ve spent a few weeks on the real snow.
And don’t forget, you’ll need some clothes and equipment before you go. Most companies will provide you with ski equipment as part of your package, so you wont need to fork out for this (unless you really want to), but you’ll need to pack your own jacket, pants, goggles, gloves and helmet. There are some really great discounts to be had on new and last season’s ski gear – as it can often get expensive when you have to buy it all in one go. Try Sport Pursuit or Ski N Boardroom for heavily discounted branded jackets and accessories, TK MAXX for the essentials…or even eBay if you want to bag a bargain!