Standing before a vast amount of clothes, toiletries, and Cadbury’s chocolate, I started to panic slightly. Here I was, all ready to embark on my first Winter Ski Season, and I had no idea what to expect. Although a keen skier, I was preparing to move to Morzine for 5 months, without my family, without my friends and without my cats. Thank goodness Chalet Morzine has WiFi!
As the plane approached Geneva, months of built up excitement slowly dissolved into nerves… what if I didn’t make any friends? What if all my guests were demanding? What if I hated Morzine and wanted to move back straight away? Although France isn’t far from England, it was the first time I’d be working and living in another country, so it was pretty reasonable to have some doubts.
However, these doubts all vanished on my first night in Morzine. I met Hazel in the arrivals lounge, and it was a relief to know that she was just as friendly and organised as she had been both times that I met her over Skype. Over the season, I was just as impressed as the guests with Hazel and Lindsey’s ability to organise and book their holidays. From arranging transfers to ski passes, ski school and ski hire, they were on top of everything! This made it so much easier for a lot of guests, who were extremely grateful to be able to enjoy their holiday without having the added stress of booking these added essentials. I was also blessed to be working in a chalet where the other staff members were so experienced – over the entire season there were no problems and this was largely due to Hazel’s ability to work tirelessly to perfect people’s experiences.
Both myself, Hazel and the guests staying at Chalet Morzine were blessed by having Pete in the kitchen. Every morning the guests were greeted with the smell of a hearty cooked breakfast and every evening they would be served a delicious three course meal. With 17 Winter Seasons under his belt, it’s no surprise that Pete curated and created dishes that completely wow-ed everyone. Whilst all my other friends who were Chalet Hosts were getting a little sick of eating lasagne and tartiflette week after week, I was always so happy to get into the kitchen and be treated to Pete’s top-quality cooking having worked up an appetite after skiing. Without a doubt, chalet change over day was one of the more intense days of work but in a way, it was one of my favourites. Pete’s roasted chicken dinner with fondant potatoes, parsnip puree and parsley cream sauce were both mine and Hazels favourite dish of the week. Followed by his infamous Chaux Pastry Swan, Pete had the guests hooked from the first night.
Throughout the week not a single guest had a problem with the food, and frequently people were taking snaps – mainly of the desserts – to share on Instagram and create #foodenvy! People with dietary requirements were also pleasantly surprised with the effort that Pete poured i
nto making their dishes just as beautiful as the other dishes. A vegetarian guest who stayed in January wrote on TripAdvisor “it’s the nicest vegetarian food I have ever had!” As for me, for the first time in my life, I considered myself lucky to be coeliac – this way I had no excuse for succumbing to the temptation of Pete’s afternoon tea cakes. From his gooey chocolate brownies to his carrot cake with orange flavoured frosting, the guests were always completely amazed by the variety and fresh cakes offered. Often, they couldn’t resist coming back for seconds!
Couldn’t Ask for More
I was fortunate enough to have pretty much everything included in my package. Ski hire, accommodation (only a 2-minute walk from the centre of town – away from the noise but close enough to be in on the action – did I mention it’s also ski in, ski out?), food, insurance and a full Portes de Soleil (PDS) lift pass. This meant that I was spoilt for choice on where to ski. From the picturesque pistes of Avoriaz to the stunning slopes of Morzine, I could easily finish work and hit the slopes for a good ski before heading back to the chalet.
As a live-in chalet host, the work is intense, but there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t want to get upstairs and get stuck in. Being 100% honest, going for the fresh bread every morning at 6:30 was a challenge and definitely not a highlight of my season, but if you can do that, you can achieve anything! Greeting the guests in the morning with a smile and a cheerful hello was a lot easier than I thought. Even on days when it was tough being awake and looking like a living human, I loved my job and the company, so it was easy to be motivated to provide a high standard of customer service. Every week, both Thierry and Lindsey would come into the chalet, greeting and chatting with the guests and even providing Christmas presents and an Easter Egg hunt for the children over the holiday weeks. It was immediately clear to me and the guests that Lindsey and Thierry truly care about their guests and have consistently provided a high standard of customer service since they first opened the chalet doors 15 years ago. Many guests had the privilege of having Thierry as their ski instructor, and they were treated to his insider knowledge about the best slopes to ski, the best techniques to use. It was really great hearing the excitement and gratitude of the guests – for many, this made their holiday!
I do owe a massive thank you to Lindsey and her family. Having such supportive bosses made a major difference to my season, and I knew that if I had any problems or issues, Lindsey would help me to deal with them. The very first night we ate in their home chalet and we were welcomed into their family, and throughout the season we were invited over to their home and treated to Thierry’s fine cuisine – including his tartiflette which was absolutely gorgeous – watch out Pete, Chef Thierry is coming through!
As a team, we couldn’t have been closer, and it was lovely at the end of the season to have a special staff day out at Lac Leman and create some more special memories. When Pete left, I was actually quite emotional – his choice of music for the kitchen was sometimes questionable, but his constant banter and endless supply of Chalet Scooby Snacks are definitely missed! Even now the guests are all gone, we are so lucky to have Thierry cook us a yummy meal each day. Similarly, at the end of the season when Hazel went back to visit family in Ireland, it felt so weird not having someone to chat and laugh with. I’ve been incredibly lucky living and working with some seasoned seasonnaires, and it’s thanks to them that I loved working in the chalet. Although I can’t wait to see my cats, I’ll be really sad when I leave Morzine and the chalet, it feels like a home-from-home now.
What They Don’t Tell You in the Job Description
But enough about the chalet… let’s hear a bit about the rest of Morzine! I ended up in Morzine purely because I liked the ethos of Chalet Morzine – it felt so much more personal and welcoming than some of the bigger companies. Having said that, I am convinced that there is no better resort in which to do a ski season. Morzine has it all – the ski area, the nightlife, the bars, and coffee shops and of course, the crowd. I needn’t have been worried about making friends – everyone arrives fresh faced and eager, ready to work hard and play harder! This meant that it was so easy to make friends in Morzine – literally my first friend was made on the pavement on my way to the shop, and from then on, I just met more and more amazing people. It’s an extremely friendly and energetic group of seasonnaires who come to Morzine, literally living the dream by shredding, après-ing and drinking 24/7, occasionally stopping to work. (Just kidding Lindsey, I promise I did work hard!) The sense of community that everyone felt was incredible – you bump into your friends on the pavements and on the slopes just by chance, and even at the end of the season Morzine still retained its great vibe.
As there are lots of seasonnaires, there’s always someone to head up the slopes with and coffee shops. Satellite and Beanies provide the perfect spot for a gossip over a hot chocolate and some cake. (P.S, Satellite does the BEST gluten free brownies, honestly it was my weakness!) Places like O’ Chalet and The Haka provided great lunch spots for a treat on days off, and the curly cheesy fries at O’ Chalet are hands-down the most un-healthy/most delicious thing in Morzine. Bars always hold good après events, and the nightlife scene is the best place for seasonnaires to come together and let off a little steam.
As most of my friends were all about the snowboarding life, I was often told that I just had to try boarding for a day. To be honest I had no excuses, being part of the Chalet Morzine team meant I got free ski/board hire from Star Ski Sports. So with this, I swapped my skis for a board and my comfort for something completely new. Needless to say, after falling over multiple times and discovering that I can’t a) turn or b) stop in a controlled manner, I decided that it’d be better – and safer – for everyone if I stuck with two planks instead of one! Whilst I’m glad that I tried boarding, the bruises were definitely evidence that I’m a skier through and through!
The Best Decision You Will Ever Make
Ski holidays have always been my favourite time of the year, and it’s always something that I’ve looked forward to. So, I was very aware that working as a Chalet Host would enable me to help other groups and families to make special memories of their own. Since everyone who left a review gave us 5*, it’s obvious that we as a team at Chalet Morzine definitely delivered this season, and I feel so proud to have been a part of that – it helped to make my season knowing that all of our hard work and combined team effort produced so many magical memories for so many people.
Having made it all the way to the end of the season with no broken bones, one lost sweatshirt, and only a few hangovers, I feel reasonably qualified to offer some advice to anyone wanting to do a ski season. It is hard work, and very full on, but it will be the best decision you ever make – especially if you end up working here at Chalet Morzine! You need to be energetic and enthusiastic, friendly, and open, good at organising and planning your time and up for a crazy adventure. Be wise to the blessing that is naps – there will almost definitely be days when instead of heading up the hill, you need to head back to bed for an essential power nap. Even though you’ll arrive at the end of the season tired and ready for a good snooze, it’s totally worth it. The people you meet, the time spent up the mountain and the job you do are all essential parts of what make the season so special. I have the guests, my friends and the team at Chalet Morzine to thank for making my season the best it could’ve been. Looking back, I have so many unbeatable memories which will forever be cherished by me. I’m looking forward to getting back out and doing another season at some point.