If I had to sum up the past 7 days with just two words it would be food and laughter.
If I could give the past ‘me’ two words of advice for this week it would be that Branca Menta (French Mint Liquor) shots are a bad idea on a ‘school’ night and to stop eating!
Its December 11th and training is now in full swing. The rest of the team arrived in resort a few days ago all full of energy and enthusiasm.
There is a surprising amount to learn about working in the mountains in winter and even more to learn about working in Chalets!
I mentioned earlier that Dan and I are total newbies to seasonaire work. Give me a multi million £ contract to negotiate or hand Dan a broken machine and we are like pigs in muck (so to speak). Drop us into the largest ski resort in Europe with a small owner led team, 3 chalets to look after and an expected 600+ guests over the course of the season and we have a really exciting challenge on our hands.
Our jobs really did take some looking for. There are so many opportunities out there but there are also so many people trying to stand out. Some of the bigger companies literally host recruitment sessions in multiple places in the UK and interview 100’s of people for a handful of jobs. I am going to come back to that at a later point because the whole seasonaire world/ approach/ concept was frankly baffling to start with BUT for now I want to tell you a little bit about what our jobs actually are!
Our team is really small but perfectly formed. There are 8 of us in total including the owner. Dan, my wonderful husband, is the main Driver for two of the guest chalets and the go to maintenance man. Thus far his skills from our years of tinkering on cars and houses have come in super handy. Anything from blocked sinks, sticking doors, blown bulbs and dripping taps to maintaining the work vans to get the guests to and from the pistes and keeping on top of the hot tub and sauna maintenance schedule. There isn’t much he cant fix to be honest and his driving skills in the snow are impressive!
This season I am taking on the brand new role of Chalet Manager covering all the Chalets to support their teams and the company owner to deliver the vision and to excel against customer expectations ensuring that they have the best holiday possible.
My role is really varied. One minute I can be helping a chalet cook to rearrange their menus to manage a last minute dietary requirement and sourcing the ingredients (not so straight forwards when the closest super market is an hours round trip away!) and the next minute I can be face to face with guests who may or may not be happy/ sad/ hurt/ excited/ arriving/ missing skis/ lost their lift pass/ wanting to book lessons/ leaving/ need a doctor/ want a good restaurant…the list is long! Its basically like being a load of different people all at the same time and its ace!
If I could have written down on a piece of paper the sort of job I wanted to do this season then it would be this. Beyond thrilled!
Its a brand new position so I get to mould it how I want it and everything I have learned over the past 20 years of my career is not wasted! Its totally different, that’s for sure! But there are so many parallels that can be drawn.
Whats even better is that Dan and I are doing it side by side so we can keep each other balanced and ‘on point’.
One of the best (and worst) bits of the job this week has been all the Chalet test meals.
Each team have an opportunity to cook a full meal for the rest of the group as if we are paying guests and then they get some feedback on how to make it even better.
Its been great! The standard has been super high and the guests are in for a real treat! The slight downside is that my ski pants no longer fit…turns out a week of 4 course meals is all it takes! Ooops!!!
Another great perk for seasonaires at the start of the season is that a lot of other companies are also testing their service/ offering out before the first real guests arrive. Loads of restaurants and bars run opening nights and discounted service to take consideration of the fact that they all have sparkly new teams that are still setting in.
In the past 7 days we have bagged 2 free snowboarding lessons with different companies wanting to test their concepts. It may also have something to do with the idea that the more seasonaires they train at the start of the season then the less accidents there will be as the season progresses?
The whole business approach in the mountains is just so foreign to me.
It does make total sense once you are here but takes a while to get your head around. The teams are created, formed, function and then disband in less time than it can take to make a really boozy Christmas cake!
Absolute profitability and asset write off is measured against half a year. It sure goes someway to explaining just why everything is so bloomin expensive up here! That and the fact it takes so long to drive everything up the mountain to sell plus its a captive holiday market. Thankfully another perk of the seasonaire life is slight discounts on standard prices when presenting the appropriate identification.
We are now less than 1 week away from the first guests arriving so its all hands to the pump. Scrubbing, washing, tidying, cleaning, sorting, cooking, prepping, shopping. You name it was have been doing it.
Roll on Saturday 14th and our Chalets will be full of holiday makers all expecting the best service and some fantastic skiing.
Winter season 2019-2020 you are here!
If you want to see what we did in week 1 take a look here