Having followed our ten steps to skiing off into the white yonder, we are already four weeks in and Christmas and New Year are behind us. What an incredibly busy and ever so slightly chaotic time it has been.
On our arrival we completed the three and a half days’ training prior to the start of our paid contract – no messing, straight off the overnight bus from London! It was fun to meet all our colleagues and to find out more about what was to be expected from us over the course of the season.
We have been ensconced in a fab little bedsit just ten minutes walk from the town centre, a bit worn and tired in decor but perfectly adequate for us and, once we had sorted out the water heating problem, fully equipped with plenty of piping hot water. After a summer on the boat, the space and litres of plentiful hot water were indeed special luxuries.
In the first instance, we were anxious to get into our beautiful and amazing chalet (five bedrooms, five bathrooms, six loos, hot tub and sauna). We wanted to get it up to standard rapidly, as our first guests were due on the 10th December and we had not yet been given any linen or had an opportunity to shop for food.
However, on Friday, the day before their arrival, I got to go down the valley and proceeded to enjoy a ten hour marathon shopping adventure in Bourg St Maurice (in a huge supermarket – you don’t know where anything is or which products are the best to buy and you are about to feed ten people for a week!)
After filling three HUGE trolleys, I was pretty much passed it. I came back to the chalet virtually catatonic with weariness and Ian and I put everything away and staggered back to our little apartment to fall into exhausted sleep.
On the Saturday we had a few hours to finalise the bed making, cleaning, food prep, etc., before our guests arrived. Our first guests were a delight, we enjoyed hosting them and they were very magnanimous in the face of being our Guinea pigs, to all intents and purposes, this week being the first time we had delivered the menu plan in full.
The first few days flew by in a whirl of cooking, cleaning and collapsing into bed knackered. Until Wednesday 14th December when finally, our ski passes were ready and we had a few wonderful hours skiing despite feeling absolutely exhausted.
After a day on the slopes and a little apres ski with Erin, we prepared a slap up chicken dinner and spent the evening preparing ourselves mentally and physically for the next six days’ work.
So far, we have lost weight from the simple expedients of not having time to eat regularly, not feeling like eating when we’ve been cooking all day, and using up incredible levels of energy; a) walking to our chalet in the mornings and evenings b) walking up and down four flights of stairs in the chalet to either collect stores form the ground floor or move between rooms. c) using a Hoover, cleaning showers and baths daily, and sweeping pine needles and or snow from the balconies and outside areas.
Full on calorie burning exercise!
We are definitely getting fitter and stronger. Who needs yoga?
We are enjoying the fresh air and amazing views all around. So far the weather has been clear and bright most days. It is a truly magical place and we are enjoying it despite the physical and organisational challenges presented in these first few weeks.
Check out the various ski job websites and decide what jobs you’d be interested in doing. There are loads of short term contract jobs with ski companies in the Alps. Everything from cleaning, chalet hosting, nanny-ing, accounting, maintenance, driving, supervising, resort managing, bar work, hotel reception, housekeeping and more.
Ask around among ski friends and your children’s friends and see which ski companies they recommend.
Tell all your friends and family that you’re intending to take the ten steps to skiing in the white yonder, so you can’t back out. Laugh off comments doubting whether we will be able to stay awake whilst serving dinner, keep up with the youth on nights out or be pleasant and cooperative with ALL customers and guests; not to mention management and other staff.
Accept the job and turn up at the appointed date and time to catch the coach and drive the seventeen hours to your resort with all your colleagues. Trying not to think about the fact that you considerably bring up the average age of the team!
Arrive in the resort and launch yourselves into the training programme with enthusiasm, aiming not to answer all the questions during input from the trainers and thereby appearing too keen or know it all.
Set about the deep cleaning programme with vigour. Hairs out of plug holes, gunk out of loos, grease off the oven. All the time getting fitter as you jog up and down stairs because the item you need is on one of the other FOUR floors of the chalet.
Sort linen; lots of it. Try to recognise by feel and sight the difference between singles, doubles and king size sets. Identify the difference between a spa towel and a bath towel! Make beds with hospital corners.
Do three trolley loads of shopping. Move it from trolleys to check out, from check out to trolley, from trolley to crates, from crates to van, from van to chalet and from chalet to cupboards! Start prepping piles of cakes and food for first guests.
Shattered – on first day off in days – collect your season lift pass and head to the hills for some well-deserved skiing! Enjoy the sunshine and scenery and marvel. Now you know why you signed up for a season.
Once we are in the routine, we reckon that there will be four ski days out of seven.
Half days on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and a full day on Wednesday. So between 15 and 20 hours a week, every week for twenty weeks of the season.
In addition, we have accommodation provided, bills paid and a little bit of pocket money at the end of the month, plus (hopefully) tips (of a monetary nature) from generous guests.
We have had a busy time since the beginning of the season what with training, snow clearing,mammoth shopping trips, cleaning and more cleaning.
It was our first full day off from our chalet hosting and so we skied over to Tignes to meet up with Erin, who was working at the Saloon Bar. It was so lovely to see her.
She ski-guided us all around Tignes and lastly to The Underground Bar where we met up Charlie Lowe, also working in Tignes, whom we have known since she was eight!
On the Sunday, we were given a half day off so decided to meet Erin again. We were just skiing down the Grand Motte…skiing beautifully, I must say! When I fell head over heals, and then some! They do say pride comes before a fall!
I don’t remember anything about how it happened or much of the following few hours as I had banged my head hard. I recall that my thumb was very painful though.
Apparently I had no idea that I was in France working or that Erin was also there. Ian was very concerned when I asked for the hundredth time what she was doing with us!
After a check up at the medical centre I was pronounced well enough to go home. However, I had been equipped with a cast for my broken thumb!
Just as Ian was paying the bill at the medical centre he turned around to put his ski boots back on and realised that they were no longer there. It turned out that another patient had picked them up in error. Luckily, someone had seen a Ski World rep helping the other patient and Ian’s boots into an ambulance.
Equipped with nifty paper over shoes from the medical centre we walked into Tignes 1850 and headed to the Underground Bar for some food. Charlie heard the story about Ian’s walkabout ski boots and pronounced that she knew the Ski World rep and would immediately chase him to get his boots back. This she duly did and Ian’s boots arrived back within the hour! Thanks Charlie”
We headed back to Val in the bus and I collapsed into bed and slept for twelve hours straight.
Next day, was another shopping day for the chalet, which only took five hours this time.
It did mean, though, that I could complete some personal shopping, too. I bought a turkey and all the trimmings for our own Christmas lunch which we planned to share with Erin, Charlie and some of our new colleagues.
Later in the week, we went to Tignes on the bus to collect our skis and boots, etc., and skied back, I was a little nervous and was quite relieved when we returned home safely.
We had a full day off later in the week and skied over to Le Fornet which is a huge area further up the valley. It was beautiful. Luckily, my broken thumb isn’t preventing me from skiing, although I must be careful.
Another week has whizzed by in a blur of sore feet, coughs, sniffles and dry, chapped hands. God knows how our younger colleagues have the energy to go out to the small hours as well! Routines are becoming easier and we are working well as a team.
There is no denying that it is hard work. This coming week we have no guests!!! We are to be re-deployed to other chalets, but should have some more time off.
We need it, we’ve earned it and, by gum, we will really enjoy it!