Following on from our 6 Good Reasons to do a Ski Season post, as promised, we will be covering here ways that you can do a season.
There are various options available and the one you choose will depend where you're starting from.
Do you need/want to work to cover costs? How much can you afford to spend? Do you want to be in a specific resort? All these things are important considerations and how you answer them will effect how you go about planning your season.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs:
If you decide that you need to work to finance the winter, then there are various advantages.
The main one is that many ski resort employers will provide accommodation - and this is the single most expensive and difficult thing to find if you're doing it on your own.
Tour operators and chalet companies: These companies need chefs, chalet hosts, reps, drivers, maintenance people, office staff, bar staff, hotel managers etc etc.. So they're a good place to start.
Take a look at the various companies' websites, usually there will be a job/recruitment page where you can download an application form, fill it in and send it back. Now is a good time to do this as they will all be looking for staff. (If you do leave it late, don't despair as there are often people who drop out as winter approaches, or even after it's begun.)
Natives is a great resource and has jobs listed from large and small tour operators. It's also definitely worth posting on the Ski & Board Jobs forum, where our Chalets Direct members will often be advertising and looking for staff.
Tour operators will often also provide a season lift pass and the opportunity to get free rental equipment during the season with their contracted suppliers in the resort.
You may not get your first choice of resort, so it's best to be flexible. If you are dead set on a particular resort, then apply to companies which specialise in that resort only - then you know you will get your first choice.
Accommodation may be small and will most likely be shared, so again be flexible and open-minded. And be prepared for hard work! This often takes people by surprise but the amount of work involved, especially at the beginning of the season, is considerable. This does get better, by the second week of January you're in a routine and suddenly find that you've got lots of time to get on the hill.
And of course nobody does a ski season for the money - don't expect to get paid a lot!
Local bars, restaurants, ski shops: If you've been to a resort and have set your heart on going back there to work, then it's also worth applying directly to the local businesses. Many of these are keen to take on Brits who can help with their British and English speaking clientele - but they will also expect you to have some working knowledge of the language too.
The employment package that comes with these jobs can vary so it's best to make sure you know exactly what is included. If accommodation is not provided make sure you're aware of this well in advance - and ask your employer if they can help you find somewhere to live, or at the very least, if they have any contacts you can try. If accommodation is not provided expect to be paid more.
Going it alone:
Accommodation: If you've decided that you would rather be in control of your own destiny, so to speak, then the first thing to get sorted is accommodation. Take a look at the resort websites and contact the local agencies. If you have any contacts in the resort use them, often places will be found by word of mouth.
Post your requirements on the Long Stay Solutions board and keep an eye on it - there are various offers going on there all the time, from whole chalets to small apartments.
Work: If you don't want to commit a lot of time, but would like to earn some beer money, then there are often opportunities when you first arrive in the resort to pick up part-time or ad hoc work.
Again it's worth approaching the local businesses - bars and restaurants may need extra staff over the busy periods, ski shops could maybe use a hand on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tour operators are a good first call - on their changeover days they may need help with transfers, cleaning chalets, transporting luggage etc. It's best to approach the rep/company when they first arrive in resort to see if there is anything available.
Keep asking and of course make sure that people can contact you easily should something come up.
But do be aware that there is no guarantee with these kinds of jobs - you may have work one week and not the next. So if you really need to earn money it's best to find something for the whole season and do that in advance.
Lift passes: A season lift pass can vary in price depending on the resort. So make sure you know what you will have to pay and what concessions or offers may be available. Some resorts have cheaper lift tickets for workers, but you may have to provide proof of employment. Some resorts may also have offers if you buy your season pass before a certain date. So it pays to do some research and find out what's available.
Working visas, permits etc: Find out if you need one and if you do apply well in advance. Don't rely on your employer to sort this out.
So there's a few tips on getting organised to work a ski season. If that seems daunting, then working for a tour operator or chalet company means that a lot of the big issues are solved for you - such as where to live, but in return you need to be flexible and be prepared for hard work.
It's a fantastic experience as anyone who's done it will tell you, so if you're interested I'd say get on and do it!
Do you have any stories, advice or even a job on offer? Let us know about it - post a comment!