My first ski season, Lech am Arlberg, Austria.

Lets start where it all began, rewind back to 2010..

I started skiing when I was 9 on a family holiday with close friends. This was in Les Contamines, France at around Easter time. The two families rented a chalet and in the morning the children went off to ski school and the afternoons we all skied together. Our evenings were spent eating and relaxing in our chalet. We did this for four consecutive years every Easter for a week and it’s how I learned to ski and what gave me the bug due to the happy times I had in France. My family then continued to ski each year but went to different resorts, but my ski holiday would always be my favourite holiday and week of the year without a doubt.

The skiing itself was exciting to me but the scenery and the relaxed evening of going back to the cosy chalet made it such a full package. I loved the adrenaline rush and the fresh mountain air, and still do now more than ever. Who’d have thought I could love the mountains more than I did before.

Once I completed my A- Levels and deffered my Uni place, I applied to many companies for ski season work. I got my job with Ski Total as a Hotel Assistant and I was given the resort of Lech.

If I’m totally honest I’d never heard of the resort before and I’d only ever skied in Mayrhofen in Austria before. After extensive googling and YouTube searching I found that it was within ski distance of St Anton. Lech was part of the Arlberg area, which meant an extensive amount of mountains, but still I was clueless to the place I was about to spend 5 months living in!

On the 12th December I flew from Gatwick to Innsbruck, then got a transfer to resort. We arrived at the chalet (we being the other staff), then commenced a week of training before our first guests arrived for the week of Christmas. This was quite a crazy week, first guests and my first Christmas away from home! We all served breakfast still drunk from the night before and overly cheery but full of excitement to get skiing. It was my first time skiing on Christmas day, but if I’m totally honest it didn’t really feel like Christmas. What is Christmas if you don’t have your family? I facetimed my parents and they’d sent me cards and plenty of chocolate but it certainly was a strange feeling. I’d say it just felt like a small compromise to a winter in the mountains, as it is only one day after all.

With Ski Total I was actually really lucky with shifts. We worked 4 breakfasts, 4 dinners, 1 day shift and housekeeping. All in all it was a lot less than I’d expected as I thought I’d work breakfast, housekeeping and dinner every working day. After chatting to my managers we found out this was just resort dependent and due to how many other staff to ease the workload. I managed to ski 5 days a week, although sometimes all I wanted to do was nap or walk. I remember I kept thinking that the novelty of skiing hadn’t worn off and it definitely still hasn’t, and right now I’m desperate to get back to the mountains!

When I heard the name Ski Total I did have bad reports of it, from my online research.  It wasn’t a well respected company to work for, but I went in with an open mind and I was pleasantly surprised. Overall I was happy, but I knew for my next season I wanted to work for a higher end company, that was respected for its staff treatment. Also with less guests so that the service was more personal, because for me enjoying my work is vital. I love working in hospitality back home and this is a longer term choice for me now instead of a short ‘gap yah’.

My chalet slept 60 guests over 28 bedrooms which meant transfer days (when all of your guests leave and the bedrooms and chalet is deep cleaned and turned over ready for the new arrivals, who could be arriving in as little as 4 hours after the last guests left)  were exhausting. But are you really working a ski season if they aren’t? I shockingly skied on transfer day on multiple occasions and almost always managed at least an hours nap before working again for dinner service, and once a month got transfer evening off!

The town of Lech is small which means it lacks other seasonnaires or nightlife, so the people I worked with were all I had.  I’d say this was probably the biggest downside to Lech, because I would have liked to have met more girls of my age doing something similar. Although St. Anton, which has much more of a seasonaire and party culture, was a 30 minute bus journey away,  every Wednesday (day off) all of us chalet staff went there.We either skied or got the bus to St Anton for Apres and then bussed or taxi’d home.  That night, it was my weekly  dose of jager and beer, and that was enough for me. I’m not a massive drinker, and skiing was my No.1 priority. If you’re in it for the party then don’t go to Lech, but for me it worked well. My Arlberg lift pass gave me great access to a wide selection of mountains (Warth, Zurs, St. Anton, St. Christoph, Sonnenkopf) therefore nothing was off limits.

So my season overall has been incredibly memorable and a great introduction to ski seasons, but I’ve also found I need a larger ski area (to prevent potential boredom), and to work for a company that cares more, or just have colleagues that care about the work they complete. Of course I’m going back to do another season.

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