The Up's and Down's of Life Working as a Chalet Girl (or Boy)
The life of a chalet girl or boy is often the subject of much speculation. Films, books, documentaries and newspaper reports have depicted it as an existence that basically involves mostly drinking, with maybe a bit of skiing, cooking and cleaning thrown in for good measure. Ask those who work in the ski resorts of Europe and you will generally hear the chalet girl or boy described as ‘posh’ ‘a gap year kid,’ and ‘spending daddy’s millions,’ as well as some less generous terms. However, the reality of this kind of life is that anyone can do it but, along with the endless ski and snowboarding opportunities and the party lifestyle, comes a lot of hard graft. Below are some of the ups and downs of life working in one of these chalets. It’s really not a holiday – the job of a chalet girl or boy is to look after the paying guests (who are on holiday) not yourself (who is not on holiday). This means that you will be at the beck and call of a houseful of people, which might mean lovely polite guests who you hardly notice at all, or could result in an incredibly demanding party who don’t let you get a moment’s peace. You don’t get to choose your guests, but regardless of how you feel about them personally (or how hungover you are), you need to maintain a professional approach. The hours are pretty punishing – you need to be able to get up and to the chalet for 7am to have breakfast on the table and to bid the guests farewell as they head for a day on the slopes. Usually that leaves you free until 4ish (unless you’re responsible for cleaning, bed changing etc) and after that you need to serve afternoon tea, dinner and cater to any other of the guests wants and needs (of course within reason!). The drop out rate is around one in three – usually thanks to failing to anticipate the effects of surviving on little sleep and lots of partying. Whilst most chalet girls and boys are there to ski and party, a little moderation in both areas will make sure that you do actually make it through the season in one piece. It’s a LOT of fun – if you’re young, up for some skiing or snowboarding and looking to work in an environment where there are loads of other similar minded peeps then the chalet is a great place to do that. Once you’re done for the day the ski resorts are your oyster and when the occupants of your chalet are on the slopes during the day then you can be too. You can basically use this job to pay for an extended stay in a beautiful mountain setting, with plenty of partying opportunities. The tips can be great – whilst the basic wages of a chalet girl or boy are unremarkable, the tips you can pick up – particularly from wealthy customers – can be impressive. You could be tipped anything from ten to a thousand Euro, particularly as many of the larger chalets are rented to the wealthier citizens of the world. Of course, make sure that nothing is expected in return for the tip…(this is not unheard of). You can get good on your skis (or board) - few people really ever get to spend a whole season learning to ski or snowboard but with a job like this you will have the time to do just that. Take lessons, join groups, or simply get up to the mountain every day and practice, practice practice. Just remember not to get too drunk at night, so that you can actually get out of bed in the mornings. These are just some of the ups and downs of life working as a chalet girl or boy. If you’re looking for a fun job that pays enough to fund a party lifestyle and also gives you the chance to pick up some slopes skills then it’s a great way to spend a season. Alpine Action (http://www.alpineaction.co.uk) are recruiting now for 2013 chalet couples in the French Alps resorts of Meribel & la Tania. See open positions here.