Ski Tips from Westy at Altitude Verbier - Becoming a Seasonnaire

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Debbie Gabriel

23 Mar 15

Ski Tips from Westy at Altitude Verbier – Becoming a Seasonnaire

Debbie Gabriel

23 Mar 15

Now that you’ve learnt the basics of how to ski and are well on your way to becoming an Olympic superstar, one week a year in the glistening pow may no longer be enough to satisfy the Arctic speed demon within you. If this sounds like you, and you feel as if a lonesome holiday or two just will not cut it, then it may be worth considering a move to the Alps to do your very own winter ski season as a seasonnaire.

Typically lasting from late November to early May, moving to the Alps for this length of time allows you to experience an entire spectrum of seasonal conditions, from the biting December blizzards to the boiling hot, summery April. You’ll also have plenty of time to learn new skills while honing those already existing, and you’ll meet some of the coolest, like-minded individuals from all over the world. All you need to survive as a seasonnaire is a heavy tolerance to early mornings, a strong, sturdy liver and most importantly, a love for the fluffy white pow. If all of this has piqued your interest, then read on …

There are two avenues to go down when looking to live and work in the Alps. The most popular choice, especially for young seasonnaires, is to go through a company and work as either a chalet host, resort rep, chef or transfer driver/maintenance man. If you have a limited budget and don’t want the hassle of finding your own work or accommodation, then this is a fantastic way to do it. Seasonnaires in these roles typically don’t earn much, only enough to pay for nights out or small luxuries, but tips can be good and importantly your accommodation, lift pass, meals and transport are all arranged and paid for by your company. These roles are very demanding and require a strong work ethic, but it’s as they say – you work hard to play hard!

Top Tips:

  • If you’re looking for a chalet host role, it may well be worth investing in an approved cookery course to improve your skills and get a feel for the food you might be cooking.
  • Check out natives.co.uk for the latest jobs in a variety of resorts. They advertise on behalf of all the leading tour operators including Crystal, Neilson and VIP SKI as well as the smaller companies.
  • Most companies take applications from June, so get in there early to secure a position. The early bird catches the worm …

The second avenue to go down is to find work and accommodation separately in resort. This is a more complicated route as it does require a bit more effort, but it is ideal for seasonnaires looking to get more time on the slopes without work completely dictating their skiing hours.

It’s important to secure a flat and some housemates before you go. If you need flatmates, try writing a forum post on natives.co.uk where you’re guaranteed to get replies. When looking for flats, email around the property management websites and ask them for help – they’re more than happy to respond and can source the best prices.

It’s sometimes worth taking the risk and asking around for jobs when you hit resort. Many bars and restaurants have their positions filled beforehand but quite often have glass-collecting or snow-clearing jobs to get you started, and there’s normally a Saturday cleaning job available in resort. Not all seasonnaires stay for the duration of the season, so you may be able to move up the ranks as people decide to move on. Remember to take enough money to tide you over in case finding a job isn’t instant.

Top Tips:

  • Be careful who you choose to live with. Try to arrange a meeting with them, even if it’s on Skype. You’ll be in their company for a long time, so you need to be sure you get on.
  • Read all contracts carefully, including the small print. You don’t want to be sprung with a hefty flat deposit that you’re never going to get back.
  • Many businesses are able to secure half-price lift passes. If possible, wait until you secure a job before you purchase your pass as you may be able to save a lot of money.
  • Don’t forget to purchase insurance in case of any unexpected accidents. 

Words: Lorna McGachie