Saturday, 10 November 2007

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Finding a Ski Resort Job

George and I have a passion for the mountains. When we are surrounded by tall snow capped peaks, something changes in us, the only way we can describe it is that we 'feel alive'. But I grew up in a large industrial town in between Liverpool and Manchester, surrounded by concrete and motorways, so how did I end up running a mountain holiday business?

It all began when I applied for a campsite job in France, with a friend of mine, which I unfortunately missed the interview for. However, the same company offered me an interview for a chalet girl position. Excited by a world of snow and sport which I had never heard of before I decided to attend the interview. It was a group event with lots of role play and discussion of menu plans. Everyone else was as new to the experience as I was and were discussing which resorts they’d like to work in, names of French and Italian sounding towns that I’d never heard of were flying around the room as we sat down to watch a video. The video showed the beautiful pristine snow and chocolate box wooden chalets with roaring open fires, and the company staff wearing huge smiles and sun kissed cheeks looked happy and exhausted. Decision made I wanted a chalet job and I wanted it yesterday.

In no time at all I was heaving my three suitcases toward a rather dismayed looking bus driver "I am going for six months!" I tried to explain as he eyed my luggage. As Manchester grew smaller and in the distance I began a conversation with a very good looking chap on the seat in front of me called George. He was telling me all about his first season in Alpe D’Huez where he worked as a dish peg in a ski hotel. The bus filled up and after twenty four hours of non-stop partying we arrived en France.After four days of intensive training I had acquired new found cleaning skills (my parents would've be shocked), a knack for cooking good chalet food, a fire safety certificate and a basic food hygiene certificate, now all I needed was to learn how to ski! On the final night we were all told of which chalets we would be working in for the season, I was to stay in Alpe D’Huez where our training week had been, and George was to work in a large chalet in Meribel. After getting to know him for the week I knew I wanted to get to know him a little more, so worked a weeks notice and took a bus to Meribel (with my three suitcases) and went to find a job with George.

Luckily for us we landed a wonderful chalet host position in a luxury five star chalet, working alongside a Finnish chef and an Australian driver. And this is where it began, I had the most amazing adventure of my life. I learnt about looking after guests, serving fine cuisine, discussing French wines, drinking French wines, snowboarding, apr├ęs ski, burning the candle at both ends, getting up at silly o'clock for changeover day and generally having a lifestyle that I just didn’t know existed! My circle of friends had grown to include a chalet chef, a nanny, ski technician and resort accountant.Determined to continue with this new found lifestyle George and I have since worked from one travel job to the next, always seeking our next adventure. However, as time has gone on we have acquired 'stuff', and don't want to live in shared accommodation anymore. So for the last couple of years we have 'gone and gotten a normal job'. When I was sat at the 'Rond Point' at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon, my legs aching form my snowboarding adventures, and the toffee vodka warming me up, I thought to myself my careers advisor never told me about his little secret, but I wanted to tell the world. I felt so lucky to have discovered 'being a saisonnaire' that I wanted to make sure everyone; even city teenagers who don't even know what mountains look like, to have the chance to go and do a ski season. So we developed WorkTheMountain.com.

This website enables potential candidates to register and upload a photo and CV. Employers can then browse applicants to search for that special person who can run their chalet, be a nanny to their guests' children, cook delightful chalet cuisine, and rep their guests so that they have the best chalet holiday ever. Applicants are contacted securely through the website so that no personal information is given out. Employers can also upload jobs and specify the resort and position they wish to fill. Both applicant and ski job vacancy can be featured and promoted to all those who visit the site. The design and feel of the site is about being easy and simple to use, but to give a hint of the buzz and excitement of being in resort. We really hope that WorkTheMountain.com becomes the number place for people to find their next mountain adventure

UpMyMountain ski news

Visit the UpMyMountain.com ski forums for all the latest info. You can enter our photo and video competitions. Currently there is a big air, and best mountain scenery shot. You can arrange to meet with friends at your local UK ski centre, such as Chillfactor-e in Manchester. There is a forum for ski guides and tuition, equipment, and long term and seasonal rentals.

You can now book all of your ski holiday extras on UpMyMountain.com. Simply choose your resort and date and then search for flights, transfers, car hire, insurance, lift pass, tuition, equipment hire, and chalet catering. You can browse the various ski deals and find one that suits you.

What to Wear on a Ski Holiday

Clothing to ski and board in on your ski chalet holiday:

For your bottom half you'll apreciate some waterproof, windproof, warm trousers. You might like thermal long johns but if you feel you get a bit nippy. Can set you back between £40 and £180. You should only require one pair as they will dry overnight if you hang them up somewhere warm and dry, however, if they are not a very good quality you may need two pairs to swap each day whilst the other dries off.

Coat
You can either take a quality windproof waterproof "shell" and then add many layers that you can remove depending on the weather. However, you may prefer to buy one big thick coat and be sure to be warm. Try to reach a balance. Remember to bear in mind whether or not you prefer to remove your hood (it can flap around in the way) to look out for a coat with a detachable hood. Also consider extended sleeves to keep your wrists snug when you fall on your hands. Paying £50 will get you something that will be comfortable enough for a weeks holiday in mild weathers, however, once you’ve got the dosh to fork out for creature comforts, expect to pay between £150 and £400 for a real treat.

Layers Anything lightweight like fleece that allows you to breathe and folds up into nothing sounds good to me. You may also want to consider longer tops so that they tuck nicely into your trousers to protect you from snow when you fall head first backwards down the mountain! These should only cost you around £15 to £20 a piece.

Socks Very important. Don’t worry about buying too thick socks – they will only dampen your technique and can cause blisters if they do not fit perfectly. Instead opt for quality thermal thinner material with fitted heal and toe areas so that it is a snug fit on your foot and buy the right size for you. Expect to pay £10 to £20 per pair, but you can rotate them on different days so you don’t need to buy 7 pairs!

Boots These will mould to your foot so the sooner you can start wearing your own the better. Visit many shops and gather various opinions and advice before making this most important purchase. Boots can make all the difference to your sensitivity to what's beneath you so they need to be perfect. For those of you with a thin heal you can buy boots designed specially for this with many features to keep your heal in place. Once again, do not buy boots with extra room for thick socks. This will numb your sensations to you skis/board. Get exactly the right size boot, it will mould to your foot and with your decent quality socks thermal temperatures will not be an issue. Should set you back around £170 to £450.

Gloves These are down to personal choice really. Mittens can be warm but restrictive, however children prefer them to gloves. You should definitely get two pairs so that one can dry whilst the other is being worn. You don’t have to spend a lot on gloves to get a decent pair. I spent £30 on mine 6 years ago and they have last 4 seasons and 6 holidays! This was of great surprise to me as I have terrible circulation and have been known to wear gloves in the UK in summer. Try to go on recommendation from small independent shops for these as they will only stock what really works and not what is trendy.
Hat Remember your ears, do they get cold often? Bear this in mind when choosing a hat. Also remember how hot you get when you ski and whether or not you would like to shade the sun off your face. You can now find some very trendy kids hats. Speaking of your head, you may consider a helmet, and you will probably need one if your children are attending ski school. It's probably best to go and try these on and obtain the latest safety advice. On the subject of safety; body armour for possible crash landings is popular for those with no fear.

Goggles and Glasses Again this one is down to preference. I have always preferred goggles because they never mist up on me, I can face plant as much as I like and I don’t break them, and the stay on my head not matter what. My better half prefers glasses, he doesn’t tend to face plant as he skis, they don’t mist up for him, and he never seems to lose them (except for in the pub). If you wear specs you can buy over glasses goggles. Once again you don’t need to spend very much at all on these, just go on recommendation. Both of ours cost less than £30.

Rucksack Something comfy enough to ski in, and don’t get anything too big, because you will fill it, it will become heavy, and this can really upset your balance, especially if you are still learning. You should only need to carry water for you and any children, and some snacks. Water carrying rucksacks can be an option.

A note of colour caution If your clothes are not as vivid as some of the choice ‘one pieces’ that you may have been tempted to buy, you should consider carrying a bright coloured vest in your pocket that you can throw over your clothes should you be stuck somewhere on the mountain and need to be found. You can also buy various gadgets and tracking devices for avalanche safety. You may also consider taking a mountain safety course which can not only be highly interesting but can also give much increased confidence on the mountain too.

Clothes for in resort Try and get some decent warm waterproof boots or similar that you can wear all the time with more or less what ever you’re wearing. That way you can wonder about in the snow and be as cosy as Christmas. Also take slippers for in your ski chalet, apartment or hotel.A couple of pairs of trousers should be all you would need, and if you are planning a posh evening then something for this too. After that a few tops and you’ll be sorted. Don’t forget any fancy dress stuff; wigs etc.
Don’t forget your sun cream, lip balm, and waterproof makeup if you wear it. And finally, download and print the UpMyMountain.com resort guide so that you have all the local info you’ll need to hand, and a bit of light reading for the trip. If you’re taking the kids, remember to pack or learn some fun games for the trip.

Find your independant ski chalet holiday