Smart Moves: Get stuck into snow business

AS ANYONE who has ever managed the staff in a ski resort will know, the fantasy of working in a glamorous-sounding place for five months - shimmying down the slopes in a daily whoosh of powder and putting in the odd half-hour to keep the chalet looking tidy - is far from the reality.

While working a season in the Alps is still a popular choice for teenagers and graduates, there are others for whom it has been a life-changing experience. Some even say that, far from marking them out as unconcerned or lazy about their career paths, working at a holiday resort provided lessons which have been foundational, and even unobtainable in a more ordinary management position.

A chalet girl or boy earns up to pounds 330 per month with a company such as Skiworld - ski pass and accommodation are thrown in for free. Reps, who lead ski groups on the slopes, earn up to pounds 350. A resort manager, managing up to 30 staff and a budget of thousands, can earn pounds 575 per month, plus a hefty end-of-season bonus.

Most don't have the intention of going on to a career in the travel and tourism industry, says Diane Palumbo, sales and managing director of Skiworld and a former rep. After two winters on the slopes, she began working for Club Europe and then for the Youth Hostel Association, moving to her present job last year. "The first problem you encounter is that your staff are spaced out all over the resort, up to 40 minutes' walk away. Being based in the office now, I am conscious of how I used to feel," she says. "It's hard if you don't have a sense of being close to the decision- making process, or feel supported. You're managing staff, motivating and monitoring them. I was away from head office, and you are never sure of your limits of responsibility. It was a huge learning curve."

The resort worker's day is a long one, with chalet staff starting at 7am to prepare breakfast for up to 12, followed by a long round of cleaning, administration and shopping. Ms Palumbo found she became good at prioritising and time management. "You get focused at getting through the workload," she says.

Her former colleague Emma Heath agrees. "Things never run smoothly; people get lost or injured. We were all responsible for sorting out problems. And even though you're cooking the same meals, you have to be able to prepare it all on time." Sometimes she wishes she could go back out for another season.

The slopes can also be a demanding arena for practising "people" skills. "Customer service is absolutely crucial. Every week your external clients change; you have 100 new agendas, faces, expectations, methods of communication and priorities.

Perhaps the greatest test comes when circumstances threaten to capsize a customer's holiday. "When you are having to tell someone that the police have been called [because of an accident], and you've got a good idea of what's going on, you know you have to be ready with practical suggestions."

But was there any time left in such a hectic management schedule to enjoy the blue skies, crisp powder and breathtaking runs? Ms Palumbo concludes that the scenery outside is just an added incentive to polish off your quota of chores. "If you're good at your job, you can do it."

For more information on working in a resort, contact Skiworld (tel: 0171 602 4826).

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Assistant - Financial Services Sector - London

£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future