Demand for Chalet Couples
Employing couples is the ideal way for ski companies to tempt skilled workers who would not otherwise be willing to leave home, to spend a winter season in a ski resort. For most chalets, the cook and the host are pivotal to the successful running of the chalet, and to the happiness of the guests who stay there. Getting two strangers to work so closely together can be a big challenge, so employing people who already know each other, and especially those who have worked together previously, is a big advantage for the chalet owner.
Early on in the recruitment season, during spring and summer, we get the majority of our chalet couple job roles filled. Employers can either advertise late and struggle to find enough candidates to interview, or they can sign up couples early, but risk their would-be employees circumstances change before the season begins. By late Autumn most ski operators and chalet companies have filled their roles and everybody is looking forward to pre-season and the first snow falls, but we always get a last minute rush of couple openings so it is worth keeping your eyes open for job opportunities even after the ski season has started.
Typical Chalet Couples
Do we have to be a 'couple'? Certainly not. We regularly find ski chalet employment for friends, or brothers and sisters. As long as there are two of you (please don't apply by yourself - some people do!), it does not really matter how you know each other, if you have some good experience then we can get you interviews!
How experienced do you have to be?
One of you has to be able to cook! If neither of you can, then stop reading and pick a different ski job, because you won't be offered an interview. The level of previous experience required to work as a chalet couple does vary from chalet to chalet, but most of the companies we work with will prefer one of you to have some professional catering experience, and the other to have worked in a customer facing role. Every season we receive plenty of CV applications from couples who, 'love to host dinner parties'. We aren't saying you won't be considered for any of the vacancies we post, but it will be a long shot for the luxury chalets who build their reputations on high quality food. There are enough qualified chefs applying with their significant other to mean that you will be at the back of the queue for those chalets.
Make sure you talk about all of your relevant experience in your application letter and CV. Have a think about the types of menus you would cook, and don't be afraid to attach a sample menu to your application, it will demonstrate to the employer exactly what you are capable of and gives a good impression.
One great way you may wish to top up your dinner party experience is by getting yourself on to a specialist chalet cookery course. They can be a good investment for people without any real experience. The courses are run by people who know the industry and who usually have good links with chalet companies.
What are the chalet couple required to do?
In a nutshell, you will work together to provide for the needs of guests staying at a catered ski chalet. You will provide two meals, plus tea and cakes each day, including a multi course dinner each evening, and treat the guests more like dinner party guests than simply being a chef and waiter or waitress. Some chalets allow guests to order cold lunches, so you may need to prepare these on some days if this is an option at your chalet.
If that all sounds like a piece of cake (you'll be making plenty of those so hopefully you have been watching plenty of episodes of bakeoff), it is worth knowing that you will be expected to pitch in with more than just cooking and socialising. There are plenty of jobs required to keep a chalet running smoothly throughout a winter season, and especially in smaller chalets, quite a few of those jobs will fall to you, the chalet couple. Expect to be changing beds, and doing plenty of laundry, shopping, and snow clearing! It is hard work so don't apply if you are picturing a six month skiing holiday - you will get time to hit the slopes (see benefits and perks below), but looking after the guests will take up the vast majority of your time.
A typical day as a chalet chef
You will probably only find the middle part of the week has a typical routine. This will be
7am: Prepare, cook and serve enough breakfast to fuel your guests for their coming day on the ski slopes. Your start may be earlier if your accommodation is not 'live in'.
8.30am: Start running shuttle to lifts from Chalet.
9.30am: One of you will clean and tidy the chalet while the other makes a start on preparing food for when the guests return later in the day.
12pm: By midday you should have the chalet organised and you can relax for a few hours.
4pm: Guests will soon be back at the chalet (or you will need to head off to collect them) so it is time to get ready for afternoon tea.
5pm: Time to begin organising the evening meal.
7pm: Dinner time! You will be serving a four course meal including a starter, main course, a desert course, and a cheese course. As we said above, treat the meal like a dinner party and you won't go far wrong.
10pm: Tidy up, clean the kitchen, prepare for breakfast if you want to make your morning easier, and then collapse in a heap, ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Change over day will throw the above into chaos and you will be working long hours to make sure you are ready for your new batch of guests. With some chalets you will also need to fit in shopping at least once a week, which will eat into your free time. On your day off, often a Wednesday, you don't have to prepare the evening meal or the afternoon tea, and a cold breakfast can be left out the night before. Our best advice is not to panic; as with any job you will soon get into the swing of things so don't feel too disheartened if the first week or two are tough going.
What are the benefits and perks?
The perks of working a ski season are well known - your office may be the inside of a chalet, but your environment is some of the most amazing scenery you can imagine. Remember that feeling as a child when it snowed heavily while you were stuck in the classroom, and the elation when lunch time finally arrived, allowing you to get out in it. It is exactly like that. Every day.
More practically you will receive accommodation, which could be live in or external. Your meals will be provided while on duty (guess who cooks them!). Your salary won't be amazing but you should be getting £100 - £150 per person per week. Everyone who has worked a season will tell you it's not about the money though! Most chalet couples will get a full day off per week, and there will be time to ski each day once the daily jobs have been completed. Your employer will usually provide ski passes and equipment hire so that you can make the most of your time off, insurance, should you ever need it, plus travel to and from resort at the beginning and end of the season. Check the full job description on each of our adverts as benefits packages do vary from chalet to chalet.
Summing up, why work as a chalet couple in a ski resort?
So why exactly would a couple wish to leave the UK and spend six months of winter living on a freezing cold mountain side? Well, it is a truly unique experience. You get to meet lots of friendly people and work in some of the most stunningly beautiful scenery that Europe has to offer. You don't have to be a skier to enjoy working in a ski resort, it is perfectly possible to spend your free time sipping hot chocolate at slope side cafes, and soaking up the late night apres ski. But for those of you who do ski, working a season is the best ski holiday you will ever have!
Where do I apply?
Excited to get applying? Get yourself on to our dedicated ski chalet couples page to start applying for this season's current vacancies!