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Best Western Ski Resorts To Work At

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, new to epic ski so I wasn't sure where to post this but this seemed like a potentially good forum to get some answers. So me and a friend of mine are both taking gap years halfway through college for various reasons and we decided we want to work at a ski resort this winter. We'd most likely try and be lifties since that seems like the best job (thoughts?) We have a long list of resorts we're applying to, most are the major resorts, but we have some smaller ones on there. The things we're looking for the most in a resort job include a mountain that we wont get tired of working/skiing at all winter, free employee housing or at least cheap housing, good nightlife cause we're both 21, and a season pass to the ski resort. If any of you have experience with this, heard anything before, or have any thoughts please chime in. Thanks!

post #2 of 16
If you want to ski a lot, consider getting a night job like at a hotel or waiting tables or bar tending. Lifties are working instead of skiing when the lifts are running. Some rental shops have evening hours. Just a thought.
post #3 of 16
Then they won't enjoy their night life.

Whitefish is advertising their winter jobs right now. http://skiwhitefish.com/jobs.php
post #4 of 16

I'm not sure how much night life they'll be able to afford on a liftie's wage, but yeah, you have a point.  


Night life or skiing, which to choose?


Edited to add: http://www.skitaos.org/content/jobs

Edited by Bob Lee - 8/26/13 at 10:44pm
post #5 of 16
Aspen's fun!
post #6 of 16

I don't know if this fits you, but Mt. Baker fits your criteria well as long as you don't want a clubbing type nightlife and you are interested in skiing in the back country.


Mt. Baker ski area allows employees (including lifties) some time to ski/ride each day and you get a pass, so days off are available too.  There is employee housing on site but none for anyone else. The nightlife thing would require trips to town (1:20 drive) where there are lots of options. The ski area is small but the terrain is first class, there is lots of new snow (it snows more days than not), and the back country options are nearly unlimited.


You would need a car and might want to consider living off mountain and taking the employee shuttle to work instead of staying at the ski area since there is nothing going on at the mountain at night except for whatever employees come up with.


This is not a "resort" experience, though.

post #7 of 16

Been there, did that...OK it was 20+ years ago.  Some advice from my experience:

  • Watch out for the Disneyland factor - once you get there you won't want to leave Fantasyland.  One semester turned into 2 seasons & 5 more years in the ski industry before finishing school and landing real job.  Not good or bad, just make deliberate choices.
  • Take a trip before the season starts to lock in housing & job.  You get a jump on some of the competition by getting hired & housing set for the season in advance.  #1 thing to look for is a job that provides a season pass.  When I did it they paid for pass, but if you didn't stay for the full season, you had to pay it back.  (or I paid up front & they paid me back at end of season...can't remember specifics).  Season pass is a big $ item.
  • Agree with prior responses.   Night jobs are best & highest paying for short hours.  Bartending would be top of list, but with the multiple restaurants there's always a need.  Also think about the large hotels.  Banquet server, bartender or room service can pay well and have a predictable schedule.  If you want equipment discounts you'll have to target ski shops.  Many have rental depts that also provide 'pro deals'.
  • Once the season is underway, you'll find that there's a lot of bartering that goes on behind the scenes.  I worked in a ski shop and would store/tune skis for people and would typically eat, drink for free, but tip well.  Similar trades for car service, etc.  It's about who you know & how you help them.  Typically I only paid for rent, utilities every month.


With 4 kids growing up now, I'd encourage all of them to take some time to follow a passion & find out who they really are as a person on their own.  Again, my caveat would be to set an end date to the experiment.



post #8 of 16

I've worked at Taos for a while and I love it.  You can never get sick of the terrain.  The people that work and ski Taos are the coolest.  The nightlife can be pretty mellow but I guess it all depends on what type of partying you are trying to get into.  Don't expect any clubs or raging bars.  The closest you'll get to that would be The Alley or El Camino on a popping night.  Tons of awesome live music though. 


In terms of a job, being a liftie isn't too bad but you definitely don't get to ski a whole lot.  You'll get a few ride breaks here and there but most of the time you'll be pulling chairs while others destroy the freshies.  Instructing puts you on the snow a lot but most first year instructors get stuck teaching low level classes.  Actually, if you don't really need the money, instructing would be perfect because during all of the slow times you wouldn't get work anyway and you would be free to ride.


I worked quite a bit this past season as a ticket checker and I loved it.  Basically the easiest job on the mountain and I was able to sneak in ride breaks all the time.  On slow days my schedule was 15min on 15min off so I could basically spin a quick lap every 15mins.  I just worked in my ski boots and kept my gear right next to the lift so I didn't waste any time.  


Hope that helps a bit. 

post #9 of 16

I like living in Jackson and working for the JHMR.  I am an instructor, you might like it, it's fun.   If you go this route the choice will be kids or low level adults.  There is more work with kids and you will have access to better skiers sooner.  The staff at the Kid Ranch is young and fun.  You will instantly have about 50 "friends" you can party and ski with.  The money can be good, you get a lot of time on snow, access to training, and there are some housing options that are starting to be available.  The biggest problem will be the uncertain nature of getting hired.  New hires don't know if they have a job until mid December and then it's too late for a lot of other jobs.  


The best all round deal for you guys is probably the night job.  Bartender or wait staff at one of the nice restaurants and you can make great money for not a lot of work.  These jobs can be hard to find and It will pay to get here early and start sniffing around.  Lifties get some skiing in.  I don't know how much exactly, for the pay rate and the time on the mountain not skiing, I would rather do something else.  Working in the tuning shop can be good.  You mostly work at night and would have access to free and cheap gear.  The pay is not so good.  There are a lot of taxis in town.  You might be able to make decent money at night driving a cab or doing airport runs.  There are always driving jobs for CDL holders.


Housing can be expensive and hard to find.  Jobs with housing and ski passes are convenient.  I decided after my experiences that I would rather not let my employer control my housing, ski pass, or health insurance.  The cost of a ski pass is about $100/week, or maybe $3/hr at a 30-40hr/week job.  A low paying job with a pass might not be a good deal, especially if you are working during skiing hours.  I once had a boss who strong armed me into working on my day off by threatening to fire me and kick me out of the "condo".  That's a threat you have to take seriously when it's  -20 outside.  You should start looking for housing as soon as possible.  Some of my dirtbag friends live in long term hotel rooms.  Some of these can be pretty "nice" and may have some level of kitchen.  One of my friends who does this lives right in Teton Village for not that much money.


Nightlife has been getting better for many years here in the Tetons.  I wouldn't really know because I never go out anymore.  The Mangy Moose has somehow been rated the #1 ski bar in the magazines on several occasions.  I've seen some great live music there in the past.  There are also multiple music venues in town.  I'm sure that other areas are better for nightlife.  I came here for the skiing.  Where ever you go, I think my advice would be helpful....  Get there early!  

post #10 of 16

Deer Valley... hands down.  They treat you with respect, as do the guests, and you get to work in the lap of luxury while skiing one of the world's finest designed and cut resorts!

post #11 of 16

On the subject of jobs and not meant do hijack this thread, does anyone have experience as a cat driver/groomer?  How do you break into a job like that?  What is it like?  From outward appearances it seems like it would be pretty sweet.

post #12 of 16

I know some groomers and it's a great ski job.  Bradly is the rookie on Aspen with eight years in and he loves his job.  The guy's an artist.  His canvas is the mountain and his brush is a Beast.

I also know some young guys that went to Colorado Mountain College in Leadville and got hired on by VR.

post #13 of 16

If you are 21, you shouldn't have any problem enjoying the night life and skiing all day and working an evening shift. Sleep is over-rated. When I was 21 (many moons ago), I worked as a janitor from about 4pm to midnight, closed the bar after work, and woke up for first lifts every day. I worked at Keystone and lived right next to the lift. You'll hear a lot of people bad-mouthing Keystone in terms of terrain and snow compared with its neighbors, but if you like bumps and trees there is enough there to keep you entertained. I would imagine you would be able to use your pass at nearby VR resorts that are co-owned with Keystone, but I can't be sure about that.


I don't think you'll find free employee housing anywhere, but at Keystone it was super cheap and they took it out of my check so I didn't have to worry about paying the bill. Plus I got an employee meal a day, and was able to live really cheaply.

post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by core2 View Post

On the subject of jobs and not meant do hijack this thread, does anyone have experience as a cat driver/groomer?  How do you break into a job like that?  What is it like?  From outward appearances it seems like it would be pretty sweet.

I know a bunch of them. To get the job, it really helps to have experience operating heavy equipment. And you work at night most of the time, so if you can wake up, you can ski during the day.
post #15 of 16

If I was looking for a 'starter job' in a resort I'd look at the lodging side of the industry.  Front Desk, Reservations, OR Bellman. 


I'd be looking at a resort that has cheap employee housing.  Some housing is better than others.  Think dormitory or hotel room.




I'm partial to Summit County - Colorado.  Lots of opportunity.  Great skiing.  Nightlife as much as you can handle.  Can be EXPENSIVE best to be a trust fund kid..

post #16 of 16

^^^^ I'd apply for that job!  Working the front desk at Copper and living in the dorm (the EDGE) would would be a fun way to spend a winter at 21.  http://www.coppercolorado.com/winter/jobs/housing


I'm a regular at Copper and the front desk staff seem pretty happy even at the end of the season, at least compared to the lift ops.   The dorm is very much a dorm, and to the liking of some and not others not into the scene.  Night life at Copper can be a bit slow, but you can always take a free bus to Frisco or Breck.  You won't get tired of skiing Copper in one season.

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