What it’s like to work a ski season
I took time out to live the life of a ski rep
This article goes out to anyone who has ever wanted to break out of normal life and experience other opportunities that are out there. Sometimes you just have to grab the bull by the horns and go for it. There is no glass ceiling; your life is your own and you can do what you want with it.
I decided that I needed a change, and it was safe to say that having an Instagram-worthy alpine landscape in front of me was a bit different from staring at the walls of my university bedroom.
A few weeks ago, I touched back down in the UK having worked a season in the French ski resort of La Plagne. I was a ‘resort rep’. There were many aspects to the job – I had to transport customers to and from the airport, make sales, deliver welcome speeches and run après activities, as well as looking after my own accommodation and being on call for customers 24/7.
I had always wanted to work a ski season, mainly because I love the sport, and my favourite film is ‘Chalet Girl’. I may have not met my own Ed Westwick, but the film was pretty accurate in that we drank a lot and had horrifically early starts straight after. There were times when I just wanted to throw my alarm clock at the wall and succumb to my hangover death like I would do at uni, but unfortunately in this 24/7 working world I was now in, I had to grit my teeth and remain “warm and approachable” while feeling like I was dying.
Working a ski season had its ups and downs, but it was the most fun I have ever had and I have made lifelong friends.
There were three of us crammed into a tiny apartment, which was, as my colleague put it: “a hovel” for the majority of the season. In our defence, we barely had enough room to keep our stuff and could only fit one person in the kitchen at a time, so it was probably just a miracle we even got on.
The three male reps that lived above us had a pristine apartment that put us to shame, but in fairness I think we can all agree that girls usually own a lot more crap.
The normal working week usually varied from running different après activities like bar crawls or the bobsleigh to cleaning the chalets and helping to host in the evenings.
Of course, a rep also had to be permanently available to customers. Every customer I looked after had my number, and I was given a Nokia brick phone to take customer calls at any time of the day. This wasn’t always ideal when I was running wild around the resort (usually in a variety of costumes) with a bottle of demi-sec permanently attached to my hand.
We were able to ski almost every day which was amazing. Our day off was on a Wednesday, which ended up being nicknamed “tops off” Wednesdays because the day usually ended with everyone running around the bar topless, which, needless to say, was a bit off-putting for the holiday makers.
Other benefits of the job meant we could try out the activities we sold. The entire rep team were able to go on the “zip wire adventure”, and “extreme sledging”, and I was even lucky enough to win a free skidoo ride whilst I was out there.
The week would normally end with an early night on Friday and a 3am start on the dreaded transfer day, when we took customers to the airport and came back with new ones. I can’t say I miss travelling 3 hours to Switzerland every week, going to sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning and then getting up again a few hours later to organise lift passes and ski school.
Red bull became a valued friend on the weekends, especially when dealing with fussy customers. When we got delayed at the airport, I had one customer tell me that I didn’t know whether I was going for “a shit or a haircut”. It sounds personal, but we had to learn not to take it to heart – they were angry at the situation rather than us.
I definitely had my fair share of tears whilst working out there, but it really allows you to grow as a person. Some of the customers were genuinely really lovely people – it really makes you want to go the extra mile for them, and knowing they had a good holiday made the job all the more rewarding.
It may sound cheesy but the experience changed who I am as a person and gave me a tougher skin. To be honest, after some of the situations I had to deal with, I don’t think there is much that can faze me now.
I feel like I can go back to uni and continue with my studies satisfied and content that I have had an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I still wake up in cold sweats dreaming about the never-ending ringtone of my company phone, or the memory of “Hot in Herre” being played on repeat, but apart from that I have really fond memories that I will treasure forever, and I could not recommend working a season more highly.