What do you think when you hear the word ‘seasonnaire’? Someone staggering around beach resorts trying to organise bar crawls and wet t-shirt competitions? Posh girls named Isabella working in a chalet? Jack Wills reps encouraging punters to get drunk and buy some, like, really cool stash? All of the above might apply, but having worked as a seasonnaire in Courchevel for the last four months, I can safely say that these stereotypes are more often than not very far from the truth.
Fair enough, we seasonnaires do party hard. Après sessions that result in people skiing off bus stops or running down a red run in the dark are commonplace. Our days off generally start at 9pm the day before: drinks, heavy night out, beer for breakfast, skiing, après bar, collapse. But one of the main reasons for this play hard attitude is that, believe it or not, we do actually work hard for the rest of the week. Before I came out to the Alps, all of my previous customer-facing roles had been ones where the customer leaves after a few hours. If you have a tricky customer in a restaurant, it’s bearable because you know they’re going to leave at the end of the evening. Out here, this is not the case. These people are here for a full week, and when your job description dictates that you are ‘on call’ 24-7, the work takes on a new dimension.
My job title is ‘resort rep’, which in a nutshell means that I am the point of contact for my company’s customers in resort. Our week starts on a Saturday, where we ship all outgoing customers to the airport, and bring the new ones back to resort. Sounds fairly simple, you might say. Now add in factors such as snow, fog, ice, missing skis, and an airport that is essentially a large shed and requires a special pilot’s license to land there. You might begin to understand why out here we have a completely different kind of ‘Friday Feeling’. Once everyone has finally got on the coach to go to resort, you then have just over an hour to speak to all fifty-plus of them, and sell them their lift passes and equipment hire, all the while trying not to be flung down the aisle as a crazy French driver barrels his way along mountain roads. By the time everyone has finally been delivered to their hotel or chalet, the work is far from over. The weekend continues with getting up at the crack of dawn on Sunday and delivering everyone’s lift passes, smoothing out and problems that may have arisen with rooms or similar, making sure everyone gets to ski school and basically running around resort like a headless chicken. This is generally where one encounters the clientele that are going to make the next week something of a nightmare. Rooms aren’t big enough, view isn’t good enough, speck of dust on the carpet… These are particularly fun to deal with when it’s peak season and the whole of the resort is fully booked.
Admittedly, it’s not all stress and tantrums. Once Sunday night’s accommodation visits are over, the rest of the week can go very smoothly. One great part of my job is ski hosting – taking groups of guests skiing around the Three Valleys and getting a free lunch. At this stage of the season, the sun shines all day every day, and life doesn’t get much better than sitting on a sun terrace on top of a mountain thinking ‘I’m getting paid to do this’. And then there are the days where we’re not required to do anything until the evening, and can spend our days skiing some of the best runs in Europe.
So as with any job, the life of a seasonnaire has both highs and lows. There have certainly been some weeks where a customer drives me to the edge of quitting, but then a blue-sky powder day turns it around again. It’s certainly harder work than I was anticipating, and I’m not sure if I’d do this job again. But for now, I’m living for days like the one I’ve just had – sunshine, snow and après.
Image courtesy of the author
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