Why ski seasons are not just for 18 year olds on their gap year
I didn’t do my first ski season until I was 25. This was for a few reasons. One was that I thought ski seasons were just for the posh kids who had been skiing all their life and wanted to spend their gap year drinking their bodyweight in Jaeger bombs and trying to recreate the movie Chalet Girl. The other reason was that I had a real job in the city that paid real money and doing a ski season didn’t quite fit into my cosy little settled down life.
But London became stressful and boring and not ideal for someone craving the outdoors. Once I got to the point where the most exciting bit of my day was dodging buses on my crazy cycle commute to work, I decided to pack it in and run away. I got a great job, met amazing people and haven’t looked back.
So, now in my second season in La Tania, Courchevel, my preconceptions of ski seasons only being for posh 18 year old gap year kids has been totally shattered. There are so many people out here of all ages and backgrounds with a million and one different reasons for choosing to be out here.
The majority of our team is made up of staff in their mid twenties to late 30s and 40s. Some are taking a break from grown up jobs such as teaching and medicine, others follow the seasons doing summers working in restaurants or running their own summer businesses and spending their winters out in the Alps. There has also recently been a steady increase in the number of couples with grown up kids who decide to leave the empty nest behind and do a season. Then there are those who are not sure what they are doing and use the time out here to decide what’s next.
There is literally a job for everyone out here. From Chalet Hosts and Chefs to Transfer Drivers and Ski Techs. You can work in a bar, be a nanny, do sales and admin or take on the challenge of many different management roles. There are pros and cons to them all; some offer more time on the slopes, others are better paid and some are challenging and have the opportunity for career development. As with any job there are the good bits and the bad bits.
Being a little older and with quite a bit of work experience under my belt I decided to try applying for management jobs. A few people had told me that I would have no chance getting a manager role without having any experience in the ski industry but as it turns out that isn’t true at all, companies are desperate for people happy to look after a team and take all the flack from the guests in return for not much in the way of cash! They are often willing to train you up in the industry if you have the right skills. I got offered a bunch of roles and the one I went for turned out to be a great call and I have been with Snow Retreat now for 2 seasons. It is long hours, hard work and sometimes I even dream about lift passes but in the long run it is very rewarding when you have happy guests, a happy team and great feedback.
Doing a season can have a bit of a work hard play hard culture but you can make whatever you like out of your season. Whether you want to party hard every night and wake up in a haze smelling of toffee vodka or you are super efficient and get your work done really fast so that you can race out onto the mountain for every possible minute of ski time or something in between – there is something for everyone. I reckon I have a pretty good balance of work, plenty of snowboarding, a few fab nights out with friends and some other bits and pieces like swimming and walking too.
If you are able to do it then I would recommend doing a Ski Season to anyone in a heartbeat. I think that waking up in the mountains every day is about the closest you get to paradise (though I may be a little biased!).