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Giving thought to a ski resort job this upcoming season. Thoughts or opinions anyone?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hello Epic Ski Community.  A little about myself first:  I'm 29 years old and have been working mainly in the service and hospitality industry ever since I got my first job. I have worked at country clubs, a hotel and conference center, bars and restaurants; bartending, serving, managing wedding receptions....  My latest gig as a bartender ended early this winter due to going out of business.  I visited family in Utah and Washington and did quiet a bit of skiing on both occasions; 20 total days. This was my first year skiing and I absolutely fell in love with it! I have been filling my head with information on equipment, technology, and technique ever since. I'm thinking about applying for full time ski resort jobs out west this fall so I can nurture my newfound passion and improve my skills.  Before I experienced skiing I was thinking about joining the military; since then I am more hesitant to jump into something like that right away.  Do any of you have experience in the ski industry or working at resorts? What is it like and is it worth it for the free season pass and cheap housing many resorts have for their full time employees?  How difficult is it to get those jobs?  I'm looking for honest feedback from people who have done this or know people who have, but feedback from anyone would be much appreciated. Thanks.

post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 

So nobody on epic ski has worked in the ski industry or at a resort? This is something I am seriously considering to try next season.  No one has any experience with this?  I'm curious about what the experience is like.  I'm not looking for a career, just an experience.  I know most of you probably have better things to do but some feedback would be nice.

post #3 of 24

www.Hostelx.com  in Jackson Hole if you can get a job there or one of the other hotels, you might break even.  Depends on how much beer you drink.  You don't need a car there.  Start Bus transportation to and from town. 


Usually housing is more expensive than a season pass.  If you can get a job that provides a room with discount on season pass you are probably  better off than working for the ski resort getting free season pass but having to find lodging. 


The son of a a friend of mine was a snowboard instructor at Breckenridge.  He made enough to pay for rent but not enough to eat.  Parents supplied the difference.


Working in the ski industry is not usually a career path. 

post #4 of 24



Welcome to Epic! The ski season is, for the most part over, so participation on the forums has slowed down a bit. Just temporary.


As you don't want a career, rather just to bum around, then you have the requisite skills to get the premier job in a ski town: bartender. Your schedule matches that of the guests, your patrons; get up to ski in the am, go to the bars at night.


Resorts are not the necessarily the best employer to earn free and cheap stuff. Many of their jobs are daytime so cut into ski time and they usually don't offer high-end pay.


There are a lot more independent bars and businesses surrounding most resorts than jobs at the resorts, so likely more non-resort jobs you are qualified for. You would probably make more than enough money bar tending to make up for the cost of a free pass and cheap lodging.


Ski passes aren't always part of the non-resort employment deal. It depends how many passes employers can get or afford because unless they are the resort itself, they usually have to pony up something in the way of dues to associations to provide passes to employees. The upside is that in some places passes are pretty reasonable. WTF?! Explain season pass pricing to me.


You are 29 and presumably have lived on your own a bit. Imagine living with the guys that you saw bumping chairs and loading the lifts and serving you in the cafeteria. Those are likely to be your roommates at employee housing. You decide.


You need to show up early. Summer isn't too early to start looking if you want to be able to be choosy about your job. If you are lucky enough to line something up in advance, great. If not, you should be prepared to show up in October to start looking for jobs with enough $ to get an apartment;1 - 2 months plus security. You can save by camping in US Forest Lands near many resorts. Some people camp all season long. Search the online classifieds to get an idea of locations and pricing of apartments and shares. You might also look into being a caretaker. Large homes at resorts often have plush lock off apartments. Some owners like to have the heat turned up and the walks shoveled, the fridge stocked and the lights turned on when they arrive.


Unless you need the luxuries of a city, I'd say go to a mountain town. I like Breckenridge a lot and arguably a true mountain town with its closeness to Denver and year round resort industry. Steamboat, Taos, Crested Butte all have good character.


Ski bumming is an experience that you want to take if you have the chance. Many years ago I spent about 3 years of my life living the life of the ski bum. I would absolutely do it again if given the opportunity. Your skiing will improve quickly with the immersion experience of being someplace just to ski and work. You won't likely regret it.


Breckenridge had a lessons pass that was a few hundred bucks that let you take unlimited lessons during certain times of the week, all winter long. It wouldn't surprise me if they did again. Check their site http://breckenridge.snow.com.




post #5 of 24

I worked in the hospitality industry for ten years and skied 140+ days every year.  Nine in Aspen and one in Vail. It was nice,  I wasn't going to get rich, but I had a very good time.


It's kind of lean right now, but there are almost always jobs available in resort towns.  Bartending is one of the best ski jobs.  My best friend skis everyday, tends bar in Aspen and still makes 60K a year. 

Why wait until fall, go now!  Take a tent and camp until you find something.  Check out a bunch of towns and find the one that feels right. 

post #6 of 24

Take the camping suggestion seriously. The US Forest Service permits camping up to 2 weeks at a time within most of their domain. No charge. Just keep your camp clean. Be super cautious with fires, like don't start one, please. The west is a tinderbox and the smallest mistake with fire can lead to the largest fire; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayman_Fire.


post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

I would go now if I could, but I have a priority that is going to keep me here in Wisconsin through september.  I was planning on sending my resume and a cover letter to some resorts, and bar / restaurants near resorts for now.  I think a change of pace working in ski equipment or in a different function of the resort town might be fun as well.  I'm sure I would make more bartending though.  This plan would not be so difficult if I did'nt live so far from mountains, or if I knew some people who have the same idea that I do.

post #8 of 24

I've been a 3 to 5 month per winter ski bum for 35 years. I mostly have worked spring ,summer, fall  as a first aid attendant in logging and mining and either took most of the winter off or only worked part time at ski resorts. Working full time cuts in to your ski time (and or party time) and just isn't worth it for near minimum wage that most resorts pay.


Most resorts offer season passes relatively cheap if you buy now for the coming winter. Accommodation and it's high cost offer the biggest challenge.


Good luck.

post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 

I guess I'll have to put an add in craigslist and check roommates.com to find someone I can share expenses with.  Having a roommate always makes things so much more affordable.  Hopefully I'll have a decent amount of money saved by then.  I should'nt have a problem getting a job at a bar or restaurant with my experience and I've been wanting to move out west for a long time.  I need to plan ahead as much as possible and JUST DO IT!  I have not done anything wild like that since I worked a summer on a comercial fishing boat in alaska when I was 18.  I could use an experience like this and the military will still be an option in the future, so it's nothing to rush into.  Should be a riot if I can pull it off! 

post #10 of 24

You are right; you can have the time of your life. Have you decided on an place to go to? There are so many to choose from.


Don't take getting a job for granted. There will be a plethora of people vying for jobs, especially the good ones like bartender. Demonstrable reliability, ability and maturity will work in your favor.


Good luck. When you pull this off, it ought to be worth a follow up post or two to let us know how it worked out.


post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys; I appreciate the feedback.  I have not decided on a place to go yet.  There are so many and to be honest I was thinking of just sending my resume to a bunch of places all over and hoping I get a response from somebody.  Most of the resorts themselves don't have their winter jobs posted yet.  It seems like a shot in the dark but it's all I can do for now.  I will definitely post if I land something.

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 

I don't have health insurance anymore either!  I'll have to make sure I get some before doing this!  More skiing = More risk of injury!  There is alot I must do to prepare for this trip so I better get crackin'.

post #13 of 24

Nobody is going to hire you off a resume if your still in Wisconsin. Employers want to talk with you and see what type of person you are.  Tons of people flake out, especially newbies.


You can show up in October.   But camping starts getting cold and you should have a couple of months worth expenses saved up because there's not a lot of work Oct/Nov.


post #14 of 24

Ski Magazine actually just posted a story about ski industry jobs that you might want to check out... It even gives a few links to places that are actually hiring, too.





post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 

I don't expect to be hired without talking to a manager, but if I send my resume and make follow up calls and emails I might get some interviews when I get there.  It's better than doing nothing don't you think?  Do you have any other suggestions towards a head start since I can't leave here until october?

post #16 of 24


Originally Posted by GLem View Post

Do any of you have experience in the ski industry or working at resorts? What is it like and is it worth it for the free season pass and cheap housing many resorts have for their full time employees?  How difficult is it to get those jobs?  I'm looking for honest feedback from people who have done this or know people who have, but feedback from anyone would be much appreciated. Thanks.

1. Yes (11 seasons)

2a. great

2b. pass, yes

2c. not for housing

3. If you're not working right now, I'd recommend going to a resort town for the summer.  Now, jobs are pretty tough in the summer, but if you show up and are willing to work 2 or 3 part time jobs to get by, I think you'll find work.  Especially if you're not a jerk and you actually show up for work when you're scheduled - that puts you in the upper percentile of workers.  If you're there in the summer you'll have a huge advantage in getting a job come winter.  Resorts doing their hiring in September are more likely to hire someone already there.  Things have gotten a bit leaner in the ski industry and jobs aren't quite as plentiful as they once were, though you have a good background from what I can see.  Plus, I'll give away a secret - ski resort towns are better in the summer than in the winter.


post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'll be able to leave in september at the earliest.  I hope to have at least $3,000.00 saved by then in case it takes a while to get jobs and housing figured out.  As far as which ski town to go to; I have not figured that out yet.  I have family in Utah and Washington and it would be nice to see people I know once in a while.  Although I don't think they would be happy with me doing the ski bum thing. ' Alot to think about.'

post #18 of 24

Check the list of current job offerings from Vail resorts  <skijob1.snow.com >

post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 

Vail looks like it may be the place to go if I can land a job or two there!

post #20 of 24

Hey GLem,  I planning a move out to Colorado this fall as well...Breckenridge is the place at this point.  If you come back to this thread, let me know if you want to chat.

post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 

What's up RobNav1024.  It's nice to see I'm not the only person wanting to do this; there are actually several on this forum.  I'm up for chatting anytime!

Edited by GLem - 6/10/10 at 2:32am
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 

I would go to breck without thinking twice.

post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 

I hear Breck is pretty sweet.  You might want to check out housing availability and employment opportunities there and compare them to other ski areas if your not totally set on going breck. That is if you are seriously thinking about doing this and not just toying with the idea.

Edited by GLem - 6/13/10 at 8:36pm
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 

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