tips for surviving the season...
This is an essential part of working a ski season. It is accepted that workers should flirt with each other outrageously. If in doubt, dont forget the flirting stops when you start taking it seriously.
Gather together a large number of young people, away from home, in a holiday atmosphere, mix in lots of alcohol and the fact that my place and yours are only round the corner and the result is a phenomenal amount of sexual activity. Watch out for libidos peaking at every full moon.
Remember that gossip is the life-blood of the saisonnier's world. Don't expect to have a 'private' life. You may well imagine it's just the two of you in on your little secret, but do you really know who saw you leave together last night or sneak back home this morning?
At the start of the season it can be tempting to ski all day and party all night. Doing this on holiday is hard enough, but try doing it when you've got to get up at 7am six days a week. Burnout, usually combined with flu, usually hits after New Year. Avoid by pacing yourself - a night in early doors saves nine (or something like that!).
Hard as it may be to believe, a routine in the wonderful world of a ski resort is still a routine. If you dont do transfers, the only time you get out of resort may be to the local supermarket. Enthusiasm can wane and some staff stop skiing and even (shock-horror) going out. Keep the blues at bay with variety use your day-off, hitch to the nearest town, try snowshoeing or telemarking. If still in doubt, look out of the window it beats office blocks!
Expect to drink a lot. Chalet wine is free and although drinks are not always cheap in bars, what else have you got to spend your money on? Many chalet girls become G&T addicts and can be sure to end up with a bulging drinks cabinet thanks to all the duty-free that gets left behind. Top tip - crème de cassis makes the chalet white more drinkable.
Theres only one a week, so most staff use it wisely with either a big ski day or a big sleep day. The powder-hungry should check the forecast before getting hammered - this is your one chance to first-lift each week and you don't want to wake up at 11am to find youve missed the best powder day of the season.
Theres no real way to prepare you for this. If youre working for a tour operator theres no doubt this is the worst day of the week. For reps, a twenty-hour day is not uncommon: flight delays, lost luggage, avalanches, traffic jams and lost lift-pass photos all will feature. Top tip take supplies and something to read - you may be some time!
Our jests about Billy aside, your average punter is generally a decent chap, who you will have at least skiing in common with. Sure, this means many dinner conversations start formulaically with So where did you ski today?, but most Billys have as many interesting stories tucked away as you if you make the effort to find them.
While some you will simply tolerate, most you will like, and a few will even become your friends! Generally though, most saisonniers rarely seem to want to mix socially with their guests. You can avoid bumping into them by being vague about where you're going, or be more crafty. Some chalet staff are highly skilled at getting things their own way: Well, of course, I would come to the pub, but I have all this washing up to do!