Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Winter Ski Resort Jobs, USA

Working a Ski Season - You have probably heard of someone who has spent the season working in a winter ski resort job. Sure, you heard about how glamorous it was and what a fantastic time these individuals have but is it all fun and games?

Well like most jobs, a ski resort job is a JOB! So there certainly will be challenges and you will not be having the same experience as guests who are visiting the resort for a week or more of relaxing and having fun on the slopes, but if you do your research well and are careful in the resort jobs you apply for then you could land a fun job which still allows you to spend plenty of time on the mountain.

Most people when considering working a ski season want to spend as much time as possible on the mountain. If this is the case then some of the best winter jobs to apply for include, mountain guides, ski school, mountain safety and maintenance. The only issue is that several f these positions require certain skills and experience. Another alternative it to look for opportunities in bars and restaurants, if you are lucky you can land several more lucrative evening shifts and then also have more time to have fun on the snow during the day!

Normally seasonal staff working at ski resorts in the USA will work 6 days a week with 1 day off per week, pay and hours can vary a great deal depending on the positions you are working and the qualifications that the position requires.

Most people working in resorts end up finding basic entry-level positions such as lift attendants, customer service staff lift tickets sales jobs.

When To Apply - Most resorts will be operational from November time until April or even May in some parts of the US. Resorts will however start their recruitment process way before this and will often start taking applications as early as June or July for the following ski season. It is a good idea to apply early and follow-up on you application several times through emails and phone calls to show the recruitment team that you are serious about securing a job in their resort.

International Applicants - Working in a ski resort is a great opportunity to spend an extended period of time in a great location and often people will travel from all over the world to fill these jobs. In the USA international staff looking to work a ski season must come from the southern hemisphere and will be allowed to work in the US on a 5 month temporary J1 exchange visa. It is a little bit of a funny system with northern hemisphere applicants being able to apply for the visa in the summer months. This is why many resorts, especially on the west coast will have a lot of resort workers from Chile, Argentina, Peru and other countries from this region.

Top 5 Destinations For Ski Resort Jobs in the USA

So here you go, here are our unbiased top 5 destinations if you are looking for a ski resort job in the United States...

1 - Crested Butte, CO - OK so this may be a little surprise and isn't one of the mega resorts out there but spending a season working at Crested Butte, is a wonderful experience. The resort is located in Colorado and is usually overshadowed by some of its more well known neighbours but this resorts has a fantastic reputation for having great conditions all season long. The resort is a lot smaller than many of the major resorts around the USA but this creates a more intimate feel, where you can really get to know a lot of the locals and quickly make friends in the resort. They are also very well known for looking after their employees and offer all kinds of great benefits.

2 - Heavenly Ski Resort, CA - When they decided to call this resort Heavenly they came up with a very appropriate name. The views from the top of this mountain over the beautiful Lake Tahoe certainly are breath taking. Located on the state line between California and Nevada this resort has the lot! Great snow conditions throughout the season. Plenty of different options when it comes to potential ski season jobs. A whole host of entertainment options away from the slopes with bars, restaurants, casinos and much more. It is also conveniently located easily driving distance to numerous other resort which are dotted around Lake Tahoe.

3 - Vail, CO - Well if you didn't know Vail is the largest ski resort in the United States and each year it attracts international visitors from all over the world. With fantastic skiing and a great resort center, Vail is one of the best places in the US to land a ski resort job. The numerous hotels, bars, shops and restaurants employ hundreds of season workers during the winter months. Vail is also located near many of the other top resorts in Colorado so on your days off it is always fun to try out a different mountain for the day.

4 - Stowe, VT - If you like your ski resorts to have a little bit of history then Stowe is a great option when applying for a winter job. Located in Vermont, Stowe is one of the oldest ski resorts in the US and it still has so much character today, even with the many modern buildings that have been constructed in the resort. One of the other great things about working at Stowe is that if you fancy a day away from the mountains then you can venture over to the wonderful city of Boston and spend some time exploring.

5 - Mammoth Mountain, CA - Most people think southern California is just beaches and surfers but it is also home to one of the most fun ski resorts in the US. Mammoth Mountains offers year round outdoor activities with hiking and mountain biking in the summer and skiing and snowboarding in the winter. The resort is a great place to work with all kinds of great housing opportunities for seasonal staff, multiple job opportunities at the various businesses in the area and convenient access to LA and San Diego, so that you can spend the morning skiing and the afternoon surfing!

What Is a Great Destination for Intermediate Skiing? A Perfect "10": On-Piste, Off the Beaten Path

Living too far south for much snow and working too many hours to get away often, I am an "Intermittent Intermediate" with no hope of improving. The greatest challenge is finding a destination that is hard enough to be interesting but still easy enough to ski down when I am traveling solo. Since classifying a run's level of difficulty varies from mountain to mountain, too often I find it doesn't work for me. Especially surprising was the difference between skiing Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Valley and Sun Valley or Big Sky. In the US Northwest where Intermediate slopes looked like the Matterhorn, I had to go to Plan B: counting bison at Yellowstone. After such near misses, I developed a personal checklist for finding the best destinations for Intermediate skiing:

    Number and type of slopes designated as Intermediate
    Snow quality and typical conditions
    Apres-ski activity/restaurants and nearby lodging
    Affordability/Attractive pricing
    Convenient access to airports
    Friendly environment
    Interesting location/different but workable
    Ski instruction availability/timing
    Weather/temperature on the mountain
    Proximity to a Plan B/alternative sightseeing

Preferring the road less traveled by, I sampled an active volcano, New Zealand's Ruapehu/Whakapapa. Living North of the Equator, I was especially excited about skiing in our summer. In addition, with the North Island's mild climate, I was able to go white water rafting one day and skiing this active volcano the next day. On later trips to other slopes, sporting a sweater with a Kiwi on skis was a great icebreaker.

On to Hafjel, Norway which had all the right advantages even traveling alone. The snow was fantastic although it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit at the base. Ski instruction was great and classes friendly. The price was right and a local bus ferried skiers throughout the day from Lillehammer. Better yet, sending postcards back home from that Olympic venue gave my skiing ability an undeserved boost I could dine out on for the rest of the year. If only my luggage had arrived when I did, it would have been perfect.

Still struggling at times to keep up with better skiers, I finally hit pay dirt. I found the perfect "10" skiing in Andorra. I was immediately excited about seeing a new country, albeit a rather small one, based in the Pyrenees. The mix of four languages, Spanish, Catalan, French and English, made it feel exotic but still easy to get by. Ski lessons were very helpful with a small group of well-matched Intermediates. It was a really friendly atmosphere with part of the class practising English and the others Spanish. After lunch, a Dutch classmate and I took the afternoon working to perfect our parallel turns.

Every day the sunshine was brilliant. Even at lower elevations, there was no ice. The local villages provided multiple apr├Ęs-ski and dinner options at a good price. Lastly, the access was easy flying in to Barcelona. The February weather in Northeast Spain was temperate not unlike California. That made it an ideal way to combine an active, outdoor trip with a cultural one viewing Gaudi's stunning architecture.

If I can't get a perfect "10", I opt for finding a destination off the beaten track. Whatever the ski conditions, I can always relish the adventure and have the pictures to prove it.