Working in a Ski Resort: How, Why and Where

03 Jul 2018

There’s never been a more exciting time to work in a ski resort. 

Why do a ski season?
Ski seasons are a great way to spend a winter – the atmosphere is very sociable and you get to ski all winter in an area with probably the most epic scenery you have ever seen.

If you want a career in the travel industry, doing a season in winter and summer resorts will provide a great understanding of how the business works on the ground level to give you credibility that wouldn’t be obtained otherwise. Says resort recruiter Richard Holgate of his Mark Warner colleagues, “We’ve all done seasons here”. Richard himself started off by doing a winter season and enjoyed it so much he went on to do two winter and summer seasons with Mark Warner.

How long does a ski season last?
A full season lasts 4-6 months, from November/December to April. If you’re looking to work for a shorter period of time to fit in with your work/uni/gap-year timetable, you can work during half term or Easter for one or two weeks.

Note that being in resort at the very end of the season means you can pick up great deals on snowboarding and ski equipment, new and second-hand!

What does the work consist of?
If you work in one of Mark Warner’s chalet hotels, you’ll have a specific role. If you’re a trained chef and don’t want to get your hands dirty scrubbing toilets, this is your best option. Everything you need in resort is included, and you can also get free lessons whether you’re a beginner or an expert.

If you work in a very small chalet, you should expect to have to do a little bit of everything – bake cakes, budget for food, entertain, clean up and be the guests’ pal for the week! This is a great way to get to know guests better than you could in a chalet-hotel. The pay is better but it will be left to you to sort out your own travel, insurance, skis and lift pass.

Europe vs the United States and Canada
There are no visa requirements to work in Europe for a UK citizen but you do need to apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card, which gets you state healthcare at a reduced or free rate.

To work in the States, you need an H-2b visa, and this requires your employers to demonstrate the need for temporary non-US workers. You need to get a visa through your employer. This can take up to four months to arrange so you need to apply well in advance of the season.

To be eligible for a Canadian working visa, you need to be 18-30 and have $2500 Canadian dollars to help cover expenses for the first three months of your stay. The benefit of doing a season in Canada or the States is that English is the most commonly spoken language. But if you want to expose yourself to another culture and enjoy hearing different languages, Europe is a better option. France is still the most popular destination, with 35% of Brits choosing to go there to ski, and Austria the second most popular.

Where to ski
So you’ve got your heart set on doing a ski season and enjoying everything that comes with it. But how do you decide where to go? Mark Warner will let you state a preferred resort, and although ultimately you’ll be offered a job where you’re needed most, you should decide what criteria you look for before you go for an interview. Some resorts have a lot more socialising going on than others so these tend to be the most sought-after.

Read more about Mark Warner ski holidays.