Why so many chalet hosts?
Every chalet that takes paying customers will require staff to look after them. Some larger chalets like to employ a couple, with one person looking after the cooking, the other the more traditional hosting. Other chalets will also employ two people, but they will advertise the roles separately and the host will not be expected to do much of the cooking. But for a lot of chalets, a Michelin standard chef is not essential, so it makes sense to employ just one person who can cook up a good breakfast, bake a cake and serve a hearty evening meal, then spend the rest of their time cleaning and tidying the chalet. For the purpose of this article, that's you! The chalet host who can cook, clean and more.
It is impossible to say how many chalets there are in the Alps, but just one of the British tour operators boasts 500 catered chalets in the French Alps alone. That said, the chalet host is definitely one of the roles we recruit for where demand exceeds supply. Most ski chalet companies advertise their chalet host job positions in spring and early summer so it is a good idea to start applying well before the weather turns cold, especially if you know you are going to be available to work a winter season.
Who can be a chalet host?
Of course the stereotypical chalet girl does exist and still applies for the job every season, but anyone can apply and be hired to work as a chalet host, and you certainly do not have the be female! All you need is to be hard working, well organised and a friendly outgoing person. If you can get this across in your job application and during your interview, there is a good chance you will succeed as a host. Chalet owners are looking for people they can trust to give their clients a warm welcome and a high level of professional service.
How experienced do you have to be?
Plenty of people enjoy being a chalet host enough to come back for a second season, but the majority of applicants have never actually done the job before, so don't be put off if you are applying without experience. Unless you have been living in a bubble, you will have some experience of interacting with the general public, and chances are you can make a mean breakfast when the need arises. Employers are ideally looking for candidates who have previous experience in the hospitality industry, so if you do have that on your CV, you will have a distinct advantage.
If you are lacking experience in the kitchen, you may wish to consider signing up for a specialist cookery course. These excellent one or two week courses are run by knowledgeable staff who will show you how to cook for a group of guests, as well as how to keep a chalet running efficiently on a daily basis. You can take the courses in the UK, or in the Alps, and we recommend our favourites on this page.
What is a chalet host required to do?
Make sure you check the full description for each advertised role because the job description of the chalet host does vary, as we have already mentioned above. You are always going to be responsible for the general housekeeping, tidying and cleaning the chalet. You will be taking care of the chalet laundry and tidying the bedrooms on a daily basis, and doing a deep clean each week before the new guests arrive. You may also be required to act as chef, preparing food and serving your guests with breakfast and an evening meal. Even if your chalet has a dedicated chef, you will be helping with dinner service both in the kitchen and laying the dining room table.
A typical day as a chalet chef
You will find that your season takes on a definite rhythm or pattern, but your days will not all be the same. The most hectic day of the week is changeover day. This is when your current guests pack up and leave and are quickly replaced by a new group arriving from the local airport. You will soon work out how best to manage your chalet so that you are prepared for this busiest of days. As for the rest of the week...
7am: You will be getting up around 7am, in time to get breakfast ready for the already stirring guests. The more organised you can be at this time of day, the more smoothly the rest of your day will go. Prepare lots of hot tea and coffee, pastries, cold continental and a cooked breakfast. And don't forget to make a start on the cake for afternoon tea.
9.30am: Well fed, your guests will be getting their kit together and making their way to the pistes for a day on the snow. This gives you opportunity to clear away the breakfast table, and once they are out of the chalet, make a start on the rooms. It is a bit of a lottery as to the type of guests you get and how messy they are, but you should be able to get the place back in some semblance of order by mid morning.
11am: Time to finish up the cake and get the table set up for afternoon tea.
12pm: Free time! These precious few hours in the middle of the day are your time to enjoy yourself, so head off for some skiing, or meet with friends in resort. As the season moves on, you may get more tired, and spend this time catching up on some sleep!
4:30pm: While your guests arrive back and start tucking into their cake and hot drinks it is time to get the evening meal ready. You will probably serve the first of the three courses around 8pm, so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time.
8pm: You will be serving a four course meal including a starter, main course, a desert course, and a cheese course. You generally sit and eat with your guests too - building up a good relationship with your guests each week is a really nice part of the job.
10pm: Get the dishwasher working overtime, clean up the kitchen, and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.
What are the benefits and perks?
Expect to earn around £400 per month. This is your basic salary, and you may be able to top this up with tips from your guests if you have impressed them (we have heard of hosts being left sets of skis worth £500 at the end of the week, but this is rare!), but realistically it is the other perks that tempt people to spend a winter season in the Alps. Your flights and transfers are usually covered to and from resort and your insurance paid. Your accommodation is paid for, as are your meals and drink while you are on duty. You'll be given one day off per week, plus a ski pass and equipment hire too. Once you get into your stride, you should be able to organise your time in the chalet so that you get another three or four hours skiing time per day!
Summing up, why work as a chalet host in a ski resort?
Why wouldn't you!? The chance to live in a beautiful mountain resort, to ski every day, to eat good food with happy, friendly people and to make some life long friendships with your fellow seasonaires. It is no wonder the chalet host job is so attractive to so many people. There will be plenty of time to enjoy yourself and it can be a life changing experience. Just don't lose sight of the fact that the work can be back breaking and the hours long. You are there to work, and that you should put the needs of your guests first. Get that part right and the rest of your season can involve all the partying you can handle.
Where do I apply?
If all this sounds like your cup of tea, head over to our dedicated chalet host jobs page to start applying for this season's current vacancies!