Every Sunday a fresh coach load of eager faces are pressed against the window checking out the snow and looking to catch a glimpse of the chalet that will be their home for the next seven days. And so with a big smile that belies the last few manic hours of bed changing, excessive cleaning and the fact I was up at 4.15am to see my last guests off, it’s my job to make sure that their first impression will be as good as their last. A trip with VIP SKI is not just a holiday, but should be a memory of a lifetime; an experience that they’ll regale to their friends and make them want to book again the moment they get home. Which is no mean feat – but where’s the fun of anything without a challenge?
The great thing about running a VIP resort is that your personality is as important as learning everything there is to know about health and safety and how to secure a wobbly toilet seat (did I mention that you have to be a Jack of all trades? No? Well, if you’re not, in six weeks you will be). In a small resort like La Plagne – with only five chalets and around 50 guests a week – you can easily get to know your guests not only by face but by name too. Which makes it the perfect working environment! Some unobtrusive but friendly interactive contact means the guests know that if they have a problem they can trust you to sort it out. And it’s always way easier to nip a problem in its irritating bud before it turns into a huge messy boil that you don’t want to touch!
After I’ve met the guests from the coach I’ll rush off to pick up their ski passes, finish the week’s accounts, grab a quick shower and then visit each chalet individually, introducing myself again and making sure the guests have everything they need. If the chalet host looks overly busy I’ll help handing out glasses of fizz and canapés, or offer to book a restaurant for the host’s night off. But mostly I’ll just have a chat with them, which is the nicest part of the job – its great fun and you get to meet some amazing people. Being friendly and approachable doesn’t just work with your guests. A resort manager is nothing without a great, motivated team so it’s vital to keep your staff happy. This is like no management job you have had before. Some of your staff may never have lived abroad before, some may be older than you and think they know better (and sometimes they will!), some may never have even worked before – and you’re telling them they have to clean that shower head for the fifth time with a cocktail stick! This is a very hands on job where your office will be the resort, rather than a room. You have to learn to be their boss, their mother, their counsellor and often their party organiser. It’s a juggling act and could involve anything from calling the hosts back off the mountain because their chalet isn’t clean enough to downing six shots of toffee vodka (sans glass, straight into the mouth from the bottle). But when you read the guest’s glowing questionnaires about how brilliant your guys are, well, you can bask in their sunshine too.