Of course, there are other aspects to consider which could affect where you want to work and occasionally you can influence this at your interview. If you want a quiet time in a relaxed ski resort with some social activities and a unique atmosphere then consider Scandinavia. Perhaps you prefer to party the night away in lively bars and clubs, never making the first lift, and resorts in Chamonix, St Anton, Val D’isere or somewhere in the bargain booze land of Andorra should quench your ‘good times’ thirst. The type of company you work for will affect the season too: if you are a first time chalet host with little catering experience then the big companies such as Crystal, First Choice or Esprit are worth looking at, as these have the
largest programmes and so recruit the largest number of staff. The more experienced host could consider companies such as Virgin, Scott Dunn or Powder Byrne: clients generally pay more to travel with these companies and tips may occasionally be larger, but they expect greater service in return.
Some of the best chalet host jobs and locations in European resorts might be:
Verbier – Switzerland: famed for its amazing off-piste and steep runs, it tends to attract helmet-wearing, transponder-carrying, shovel-packing free-riders so for real adrenaline busting experiences, this could be one to think about.
Kitzbuhel – Austria: most people will know this resort for possibly the greatest World Cup downhill race on the ski circuit and while not great for beginners, for intermediate or experienced skiers and riders it offers a great variety of terrain with picture postcard towns to match.
Les Trois Vallees – France: tagged as ‘the largest ski area in the world’. If you want ski chic and ‘something for everyone’ then the resorts of Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens are worth a look. You could find yourself spotting celebrities in luxurious Courchevel, enjoying some of the best après ski the Alps can offer in Meribel or hitting the terrain parks in V.T – the Three Valleys have it all.
Les Arcs – France: with three purpose built villages, Arc 1600, 1800 and 2000, this is great spot for beginners and for anyone wanting a good entry level resort in which to hone their new snow skills. A vibrant and cosmopolitan resort, it attracts clients from all over Europe and has a forgiving ski area for less experienced riders.
America and Canada offer a vastly different skiing and riding experience to Europe and consider working over there only if you have a few seasons under your skis. Compared to Europe, the nightlife is a bit lacking, but towns such as Breckenridge and Whistler Village hold their own in terms of good times and raucous nights out. Punters generally cross the pond to experience runs as wide as motorways and the ability to go anywhere you like within the ski area, and it is all about racking up mountain time rather than bar hours. The snow is lighter, fluffier, and there is usually more of it due to higher elevations than European resorts. Should you be lucky enough to bag a place on a company’s USA/Canada programme, some of the best resorts to work in are:
Vail and Aspen – Colorado, USA: competition is fierce between these two resorts for the number one ski spot. Vail boasts the largest ski area in North America with just about every type of terrain imaginable from ungroomed back bowls to wild tree fields, while Aspen draws the crowds through a solid reputation and two mountains to play on.
Breckenridge – Colorado, USA: originally an old gold mining town, it has a much less ‘purpose built’ feel to the town with old style properties and lively bars to pass the long winter nights. Add to this the highest chair lift in North America and four peaks to explore, it makes for an ideal resort for novices and experts alike. You may also get to see some of the top pro snowboarders who come to thrash the notorious half pipe and terrain parks each week in training for season competitions.
Whistler – Canada: a resort with it all! Great snow records, lively night spots, vast areas of untouched powder, glade runs that take you on a James Bond style adventure through the trees, wide sweeping runs for beginners and experts-only terrain that start with two-metre drops!
Wherever you end up, with some commitment to the role, hard work at the season start and good communication skills, it is possible to have one of life’s unrivalled outdoor experiences. Location can play a big part in the overall experience of your season, as can the people you end up working with: initially you will get little or no choice but as you become more experienced, you may be able influence where you end up. The best jobs go to the people with the best record and if you stick with same company for continual winter/summer seasons or repeated winters then you can fully expect to find yourself working in some of the best ski areas in the world. So pack your goggles, buy a new hat, say goodbye to your UK life for six months and get cooking!