Ski Season: A Day in the Life of a Chalet Host and What Wage to Expect
I’m currently in France on my sixth season working as a chalet host in the Alps. The term chalet host is an umbrella term for a chef, host or assistant in a ski chalet. My main role over the past six winters has been the chef and my partner is the host. This is what I get up to on my working days.
Morning Breakfast Service
07:00 – My alarm goes off and I reluctantly climb out of my cosy bed, brush my teeth, throw my hair in a bun then shove on my uniform. I get a company branded t-shirt and fleece to wear to work in the chalet.
07:20 – I arrive at the chalet and the first thing I do is switch the lights and oven on. Pete, my partner, will clear any of the previous night’s crockery and set up the table for breakfast. All the continental bits will be on the table and I’ll prepare the hot option (porridge, bacon, scrambled eggs…). Some ski companies have a set breakfast menu but I have a bit more freedom.
07:50 – The early rising guests will start to appear and we make them teas and coffees whilst nattering about the weather and snow conditions.
08:00 – Breakfast is underway with most of the chalet guests are up and raring to go. We serve a hot breakfast to everyone who chooses it and put out fresh bread, croissants and pains au chocolat.
08:45 – I start to prepare the afternoon tea cake whilst Pete clears down the table and puts the dishwasher on. You’d be surprised at how much mess nine adults can make! I vary my cake flavours daily; chocolate and lemon drizzle are the top favourites among guests.
09:00 – When all the guests have left for the day, I start prepping for the three course evening meal. Depending on the menu, I prep as much as possible like chopping vegetables, and making sauces, the starter and dessert.
10:30 – By this time I’m usually finished in the kitchen and Pete has cleaned the guest rooms and helped me clean the kitchen. We leave out the afternoon tea cake for the guests to devour when they return. I usually catch up with my co-worker in next door chalet where we discuss the menu and have a gossip.
10:45 – I return to my apartment and get ready for an afternoon of snowboarding and enjoying the mountains.
18:00 – I get back to work and the first thing I do is whack my oven on. Having a preheated oven is so important because, if you forget, it can delay dinner and that’s just awkward. I get organised with what needs doing for dinner which usually means sorting out the main and reheating anything that needs it, like soup for starter.
18:30 – The chalet guests pop in and out of the kitchen to chat with us whilst Pete sets the table for dinner.
19:00 – Pete, my host, sets up the lounge area with pre-dinner snacks and a few canapés. We offer the guests fizz, beer or wine as an aperitif and it gives the guests an opportunity to mingle.
19:30 – Dinner is served! I plate up the starter and Pete acts as the waiter helping me serve and offering the guests more wine. The main dish follows, then we finish the evening with dessert. We interact with the guests and ensure there is a nice ambience for dinner.
20:30 – Dinner is done and usually the dishwasher is back on and I offer the guests a selection of cheeses. I tidy the kitchen and Pete and I make sure the guests have enough wine before we leave.
20:45 – We get back to our apartment and enjoy a quiet dinner together and unwind after being at work. We catch up on some Netflix then the routine starts all over again.
What Wage to Expect on Your Ski Season
Although most chalet jobs are similar, there is a wide range in wages depending on which company you work for. Recently, contracts are changing and UK ski companies operating in the French Alps are being advised to start paying their staff French minimum wage under new French rules.
In my first ski season in 2014, the company paid me £390 per month which doesn’t seem like a lot, but I also averaged £50-100 per week in tips and I didn’t have to pay for accommodation, food or for my ski gear and pass. My outgoings were minimal and I did manage to save a bit. If you return for another season with the same company, you usually get a pay rise or you can find companies that would give you a French contract meaning you earn £1200 per month. Tips also vary from company to company, and the harder the work the better you do.
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