Life & Work as a Seasonaire: ‘You’re hired!’

Back in the pre-covid-19 days of the Summer-19, myself and Harry were merrily sipping our second cups of coffee for the day, with a ham and cheese panini in our bellies, and a crate of beer from Carrefour bought for later perched next to us. Disclaimer; beer on tap is expensive in France. This was all before midday had rolled around. It was my first time in Morzine, and Harry’s fourth. Even though there are countless places you can get food in Morzine, and good food at that, we were having our breakfast at Ô Chalet for the fourth time, on the fourth day of our summer holiday. They do a smashing Panini, salted caramel crêpe and the burgers are to die for – especially the blue cheese one.

It was at this moment that we looked directly across the street and noticed the Reach 4 the Alps chalets. Harry joked that we should do a ski season. It was a passing comment and not one that I could entertain because I was due to go back to University to start my second year in September.

Enter beer no.3. For the majority of the afternoon I embarked upon a googling marathon on the subject of doing a ski season every chance I got when Harry wasn’t paying attention. I should mention at this point that I wasn’t having the best time at Uni, it just wasn’t for me, but I’ll come to that another day. Moral of the story here is that I was dreading going back and the ski season idea brought my little friend, who goes by the name of Miss. Spontaneous, bubbling to the surface. She popped up a couple of years ago when I changed course last minute from going to Asia, to New Zealand with Harry instead – best decision I ever made. So in my tipsy, high on holidaying brain, I decided I would actually entertain the idea of a ski season. Fast forward a LOT of research into what a ski season entails, a couple months, about 25 applications, and 5 interviews later, we had a job in Morzine, right where we wanted. But I’m not quite there yet.

So here’s how we did it if you’re keen to give it a go…

JOB ROLE / APPLICATION

First of all, apply as early as possible! You don’t want to get responses saying they’ve already filled the position! The sooner, the better!

The process is a little different for each company. They range a lot, as does the job. Chalet Host, Chalet Couple, Chalet Friends, Single Host, Chalet Chef, Waitress, Driver, Cleaner, the list goes on and on. Work out what kind of company you want to work for, and what job role you’d like. We chose Chalet Host Couple. Each company has their own feel, so make sure you look at their website, the chalets they have, their location, even their TripAdvisor reviews – you want to know it all! We wanted to work for a small company in Morzine. Small, because we liked the idea of being valued members of the company with the responsibility of an entire chalet – cooking, cleaning and hosting. Morzine, because we knew the area and felt we could lend knowledge on the best places to ski, our all-time favourite restaurants and where to go for a fun night out. Following this I found a website called Chalets Direct, on which there is a forum where you can advertise what you’re looking for, and companies will also advertise for what they’re looking for. This means that not only could we seek out the companies we felt the most suited to, but companies who were looking for particular people with x experience in a particular role could find us a little easier too.

SELLING POINTS

Unique Selling Point

Know your selling point. My age went against us. I wasn’t yet 21 so we got a long list of no response emails based on the fact that I’d be a pain to insure on the company vans. What gave us our edge, as told by one of the companies we had an interview with, was that we were a couple who’d worked together for four years, as friends first, then as a couple, then living together. So many people apply as single hosts and get paired with someone they’ve never met before, or couples that have never worked or lived together, let alone both, so this bode well for us. So work out what your USP is and use it!

Experience

If you have hospitality, cooking, cleaning, or customer facing experience in any role, you have to use this. Without this, you’ll struggle. If you love to cook, say what it is you like to cook, show a passion and understanding of what it is you can do. Employing people to run a chalet, or work in one, in any capacity is a big deal for these companies and they need to make a decision based on a couple of Skype calls whether or not to hire and trust you. So you have to come across as reliable with an understanding of the work, and experience dealing with customers, because you will get some pretty tough ones. They won’t make up the majority, but they’ll be there, and remember, if you get one of those in a restaurant, as tough as it is, they have their meal and they leave. You don’t have to make breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner for them 6 days of the week, constantly tidy up after them and do a daily clean of their rooms. They’re there to stay for a week! So you really do have to just smile and nod. This is why any experience you have with dealing with difficult customers you have to draw on.

Love of the mountains

It feels like this should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway – a love of the mountains and the outdoors is an obvious prerequisite for the job. Let’s not forget that this is a hard job, for not very much money. We were asked by more than one company about where we holiday, our ski experience, and why we love the mountains. I told one about my previous mountaineering experience and we were absolutely golden after that! Show what drives your choice to do a ski season. Second, you’re hosting people who love the mountains, and I promise it’s much easier to have a laugh with them and enjoy their company when you share your love for the mountains with them. They’ve been skiing all day! They want to chat and hear your stories too – it helps tenfold to be like-minded.

Personality

Finally, smile. Laugh and joke with them. You’re going to be hosting a chalet, you need to be personable. In our first interview I was so nervous that I was really wooden, so it’s not surprising that it was 5 interviews later we got the job. Harry even wore a tropical shirt and we spoke to our soon to be boss about running a curry house on wheels in the French Alps – gap in the market, and all that!

INTERVIEW

Making it to the interview stage is where things get exciting! You get to meet your potential bosses (albeit over a Skype call) and have a good old chin-wag! If you’re thinking of doing a season for the first time, I can’t express enough how much you should research what the job actually entails. I’ll go into this more in Part 2 of Life & Work as a Seasonaire: The Job. The point I’m making is that it’s essential to know what you’re applying for, for the interview stage of the process. We were asked on more than one occasion to outline what the day-to-day of the job entailed, how much we could expect to be paid, and please, please make sure you’ve prepared your response for what is the hardest customer service issue you’ve ever dealt with. I hadn’t for one of the interviews, and purely because I’ve worked 3 years in a pub and 6 months in a hotel, there were so many difficult customers to choose from that I couldn’t pin point one once put on the spot! I kicked myself after. So prepare, prepare, and prepare again!

Fast forward three months or so after our coffee and Panini at Ô Chalet, we had our jobs lined up for December 1st and the contracts signed! Pub quiz roaring on at said ‘local pub’ I got a phone call from Harry telling me to check my emails saying the job was ours if we wanted it! I was absolutely elated, I LITERALLY jumped with joy. Jack & Jill Holidays were the company we had both wanted and we’d got it. And voila… there you have it!

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2 Comments

  1. Ali Tea
    May 3, 2020 / 1:47 pm

    Love it Abs ❤️❤️

    • May 3, 2020 / 2:22 pm

      Yay! Part 2 will be on the job, 3 living in Morzine and 4 weird requests from guests! The last 2 should give you a good laugh 😛

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