A Day In The Life Of A Chalet Host

Last year we packed our bags for one of our biggest adventures yet – a season as Chalet Hosts in Morzine, France. We cut our season short, but the two and a half months we were there, we certainly learnt a lot! We LOVED being in the mountains, waking up to the snowy landscapes and crisp mountain air every morning was incredible. But, not so incredible when you’re waking up at 6am, it’s dark & your car windscreen is totally frozen – INSIDE and out. Yep, you’re about to hear all the details of a typical day in the life of a chalet host.

6am/6.40am: Wake up

 

You’ll see I’ve left a pretty big window for our wake-up period! The beginning of the season we woke up at 6/6.15am as we were super scared of sleeping in and used to get to work a bit earlier. However, as time went on and we got into our groove for breakfast service, we’d wake up later and later. We also shared one bathroom between four of us on the same schedule, so we rather than wake up and wait our turn just decided we’d have an extra 15 mins in bed and take the second slot!

 

7.15am: Arrive at the chalet & set up for breakfast!

This was the time we were given to arrive at the chalet, though we arrived at 7am our first week or two to make sure we didn’t need to rush. The first thing we’d do was set the oven to 170 and wait for it to heat up for our croissants.

We’d more often than not leave our guests at the table with wine & cheese after dinner the night before. We had the option of moving our guests into the lounge after dinner with their wine & cheese, but our guests never took this option! I don’t blame them (I get stressed eating/drinking at coffee tables) – and I think the one time we did red wine got spilt so I was quite happy they chose to stay at the table.

This meant each morning our first port of call was to tidy up from the night before. Sometimes our guests would clean up after themselves, leaving a pile of plates next to the sink and the table just with mats on. Other times, everything would be left on the table, so we’d get a feel for how the guests were early on in their stay to work out how long it would take us to tidy. It was usually a pretty quick job though!

We’d empty the dishwasher from the night before (a few times we’d totally forget to put it on, making lives a lot harder for ourselves that morning!), reload it with plates and wash up any that we needed for that breakfast service. We only had 15 of each plate, so if we had a full chalet, we’d have to wash all the side plates (used for cheese) again by hand for breakfast service. The same went for small knives!

Once we’d cleared away everything from the night before and had a little tidy, we’d re-set the table for breakfast. We served hot breakfast with continental options for guests to help themselves to, so the preparation for breakfast was quite a lot. Laying the table consisted of setting each place (mat, glass, mug, small knife & fork, spoon & teaspoon) and a folded linen napkin. Some mornings I’d spend my first 5/10 minutes ironing napkins (which I loved – the laundry room was so nice and warm!).

We’d put the kettle and coffee machine on, and when these were finished add to the middle of the table a hot water jug, a coffee jug, a jug of cold milk (and an alternative if we had any dietaries) and a jug of water. We’d cut off little rectangles of butter and place these in a few dishes, along with a dish of ketchup and the salt and pepper grinders. Next, it was the jars of brown sugar, white sugar, tea bags and some extra teaspoons on a dish – then the table was done! Oh and sometimes we had a teapot, though most of the time our guests were coffee drinkers rather than tea.

At some point during all of the table setting, we’d put the croissants in the oven as these took 25 minutes or so to cook and it was good to let them cool off a bit before putting them in the basket. We’d also go grab our baguette delivery, which was left by the hot tub each morning for the two chalets to share. We’d slice a baguette up (we’d usually get five for breakfast and dinner, but rarely went through more than one each morning) and put the rest away for later. Now, to get started on the continental buffet! We’d lay the basket of sliced baguette on the side, alongside bowls, plates, a jug of both orange & apple juice, a fruit bowl, a selection of three different jams and a bowl of yoghurts (plain & fruit). Once the croissants were out of the oven, these would be put into a basket and the continental buffet was nearly complete. Last but not least we’d space the cereals & nuts/dried fruits nicely, chop up some fresh fruit and present in a glass, and then add little placards in holders in front of everything to ensure people knew what was what. Once I’d written a little something on our chalet blackboard (usually the forecast for that day, a joke or fact and a little drawing of some kind!) and put the little hot breakfast menus on the table, we were DONE!

 

8.00am – 9am: Breakfast is served!

 

Breakfast started ‘officially’ at 8am. Though, this wasn’t always the case. When we had groups with younger children, we’d tend to have them wandering down any time from 7.30-7.45am, though they’d usually only eat a bowl of cereal and wait for adults to order any hot options (which started at 8am). We did have some guests who’d come down for breakfast at 8.55am, so it really depended on the week/guests on how our schedule went. We offered hot options of: scrambled eggs or poached eggs on homemade bread (yep, we made bread ourselves – and that doesn’t mean in a bread maker either!), ‘full breakfast’ – bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans & toast, or crepes.

Crepes usually only got ordered by children, and we hated when they did as that meant an extra pan on an already very busy hob! We’d give ourselves a head start by lining a baking tray with bacon and popping it in the oven, and another with some tomatoes. We’d also try and cook the mushrooms first too – which we always got complimented on (butter & a little balsamic vinegar!).

I’d chop up some chives and leave them in a bowl for garnish on the eggs, and then mostly I’d leave James to it. As we prepared most of the bits, the only thing we really had to cook to order were eggs. And, I really don’t like eggs. I can cook them, but as they’re something I don’t eat I’d struggle to work out when they were done or not, so this became James’ job. I’d help to serve and plate up, especially if we had crepes (lemon, sugar and a sprinkle of icing sugar to garnish!), but I’d use this time to try and get on with either baking a cake or prepping for the evening meal.

James would take orders as people came down, serve the breakfasts and clear any plates as he went. We’d refill the hot water & coffee pots, and chat to guests about what their plans were for the day, where they’d be skiing and try and answer any questions they had about the area. I say try, as this was super hard at first when we’d barely skied/left the chalet and hadn’t worked out where everything was yet!

Breakfast service was definitely a lot harder when we had young kids. It took more time and sometimes meant that parents fed their kids, then came back for their own breakfast. We had one week where we’d have people at the breakfast table until 10am, despite breakfast ‘ending’ at 9am. We’d just get on with everything else in the kitchen, but it was harder when we’d still be asked for fresh coffee, food etc after breakfast was meant to be over. The weeks where we had keen skiers was a dream, as they’d be so eager to get out and up the mountain for one of the first lifts that they’d be gone by 8.45am latest!

 

9am (ish) onwards: Tidy, clean, bake & prep!

 

So as I mentioned, breakfast was meant to finish at 9am but this wasn’t always the case. We had different jobs to get on with though, so even if we had people still eating we definitely had enough to keep us busy.

Each day we’d leave out afternoon tea – so on the itinerary was always making a cake. We’d got a list of those we’d decided were almost ‘fail-safe’, so we’d usually work through those. Sometimes we’d get special requests (birthday cakes, brownies for a second time cos they were SO good).. sometimes we’d have dietaries (dairy-free, no-soy) which made it a little trickier. Sometimes I’d do the cake whilst James did breakfast, other times I’d leave the cake to him and stick to prep for the evening meal – it depended on the day and what we were cooking that night. For example.. our Day 2 menu for the evening was a starter of Pea & Mint soup, a main course of Confit De Canard served with Potato Dauphinoise, Braised Red Cabbage, Romanesco and a Port Sauce, followed by Lemon Tart. I never prepped for the soup in advance as I didn’t want it to lose its colour, so I always made that fresh in the evening. However, I’d get to work with my mandolin on the potatoes and get them in the oven ready for their first bake. Whilst these were in the oven, I’d prepare the red cabbage and get it in the pan as it definitely tasted nicer the longer it cooked! James was always in charge of the lemon tart, and whoever wasn’t as busy made a cake.

We also had to clear up from breakfast, which we’d do before/after some of the above, depending on when people had gone. I preferred to get breakfast all cleaned up before starting on the rest of our tasks (the kitchen could get SO messy) but there was no point wasting time if people were still at the table, so we’d get on with other stuff. We’d also grab some breakfast for ourselves – usually just whatever was leftover from service. After eating, we’d put everything away, do all the washing up, load the dishwasher, then clean the dining area so it was ready to lay out afternoon tea. We’d usually hoover (unless there were babies sleeping!) so sometimes we’d just sweep.

We’d also clean and tidy the lounge areas – this involved dusting, hoovering, plumping up cushions & titivating, cleaning and restocking the honesty bar, tidying any belongings left around, and cleaning and restocking the tea & coffee station (and the cereals if necessary). Each day we’d also do the hot tub chemicals and top up the water level if it was looking a bit low

Another communal area to check was the games room. Some weeks this was barely used, others (aka, weeks with more children) it would look like a bomb had hit it! I really, really didn’t enjoy re-stacking the giant Jenga each day!

Now, onto the next big job. ROOMS. The daily clean included: general tidying (this could either be nothing, or eeeverything), making up the beds, hoovering (if needed, not every day), cleaning the bathrooms, topping up toiletries & toilet roll and emptying bins. Again, how long this took depended on the guests – we had some guests who’d leave the room literally looking like they hadn’t been in it. Others, not so much. We’d tag team this at first, but as we got quicker James would do rooms whilst I finished cooking & cleaning communal areas.

Once all the rooms were done, I’d lay out afternoon tea and tidy & clean the kitchen and wait for James to come and finish with the hoover. He’d then go clean the downstairs bathroom, sauna if it needed it & make a start cleaning the Boot Room. Cleaning the Boot Room was always the most painful task, as you knew that it would just end up looking exactly the same in a few hours once everyone was back from skiing. But hey ho! I’d do a last check that everything was done, do any laundry (I was VERY proud of my laundry cupboard). Once everything was ticked off our list, we were outta there!

Now, if everything went well. We were out by 10/10.30am. We managed to be out at this time most days towards the end of our season. At the beginning though, we’d aim for midday, then 11am, then 10am.. We ALWAYS had an aim – we’d look at what time we’d finish breakfast service and go from there. I think that really helped us to ensure we did get out at a decent time! Of course, some days things went wrong (cakes, prep..) so we’d have to stay longer to get it done. Another thing that would delay our leaving time was when we had guests who didn’t leave the chalet to ski, children/babies with lots of toys everywhere, etc. We had our fair share of this, which definitely made mornings harder. It also meant we couldn’t say goodbye to everyone and know we had the chalet to ourselves – aka put music on and really get to work! I got caught one day dancing and singing to Taylor Swift whilst cleaning by a guest who came back from skiing early – it was pretty embarrassing…

10am-10.30am or 11am-11.30am: BREAK TIME!

 

So, you may read that on seasons, people work, ski, work, go out, sleep. I definitely thought that was the case – I wasn’t bothered about going out, but I honestly thought skiing would be a daily occurrence. Ha, ha, ha… How wrong I was! We’d ski as much as we could, as after all that was the reason we were there. But it really didn’t happen as often as we’d have liked. A lot of the time, we were physically and emotionally exhausted. We worked such long days, and sometimes as much as we loved skiing, bed & Netflix was FAR more appealing.

Unlike most people (for a reason too, which we soon found out) we had a business to run, alongside the chalet hosting. So we spent a lot of our breaks working on Isho, meaning we didn’t have time to ski. This also meant that we’d then be double exhausted, as we’d had no break, so it’d wipe us out the next day too. We definitely thought we’d have more time to run our business and ski at the same time, but it just didn’t work out like that. But the days we did get out skiing were always the best! Even if it was just for an hour or two.

My ideal break would be to come back for around 10.30am, which usually meant we were in a good mood as everything had gone well and we’d be feeling proud of ourselves for getting back at a good time. We’d change out of uniform & head straight up the slopes, meaning we could get a decent chunk of time in skiing. Sometimes we’d eat on the mountain (treat!) but otherwise, we’d head home by 3pm, cook ourselves a late lunch (usually pasta), have a quick shower, power nap and be up and straight back to work. If we had kids meals to serve we’d head back for 5.30pm, otherwise, we’d head back for 6pm.

The days that happened like the above were the best, especially when others in the flat were back and could join us on our trip out. Sometimes we wouldn’t time it so well, meaning we didn’t get our nap. I’d never really been one for naps, but during our season we realised that nap time was a very important part of our schedule. If we didn’t get them, we definitely felt it.

Some days, naps took priority over skiing. We were exhausted, and skiing just didn’t appeal to us! Unlike a ski holiday where you’re only there for a week so make the most of every moment, on a season you don’t feel the pressure to be out EVERY day. Looking back, I wish we’d managed to have gone out more, but that was probably due to only staying half of the season! And as I said, many days we ended up just working our whole break. So, yeah. It was pretty tiring.

 

5.30pm-6pm: Arrive back at the chalet for evening service

 

If we had children in the chalet, our evenings required a little more work and started earlier. Kids sat down to eat at 6pm (or at least, they were meant to!). So we’d get back, tidy away afternoon tea & lay the table for them to eat. We’d chat to parents at the beginning of the week to try and work out what their children liked to eat, then plan the week’s meals accordingly. At the beginning of the season (before guests arrived) we’d had an afternoon to bulk cook in preparation for kids meals, and I’d made about 40 portions of bolognese, shepherd’s pie filling & mac and cheese, lots of mini burgers and also a fair amount of meatballs. These were all organised in our big chest freezer downstairs, meaning kids meals were pretty easy! If not, we’d prep for them in the morning alongside adult meals. A favourite always seemed to be spaghetti bolognese or shepherd’s pie! Children’s meals also included dessert. We had one boy who just wanted strawberry ice cream every night, so that was much easier. Otherwise, it would be mini chocolate fondues, raspberry fool, chocolate mousse, Nutella crepes… We tried to make them a bit more exciting with hundreds and thousands!

Occasionally children ate with the parents, but mostly they’d eat at 6pm. Sometimes they wouldn’t come down till much later, which would be quite stressful as it would sometimes delay adult meals. This was always a bit awkward if it was a split chalet, and half the chalet were no relation to the children and then had to eat their dinner late (it happens!).

Once children’s meals were done, it was onto adult meals. If we just had adults in the chalet, we’d come in, tidy away afternoon tea and set the table straight away for our dinner service.

Dinner service consisted of laying down placemats, rolling napkins into a napkin ring to place diagonally across the mat, setting out two knives, two forks (or one & a soup spoon), whatever was needed for dessert, water, bread baskets, salt & pepper, butter dishes, wine menus and candles. We’d light the candles on the table, along with the tea lights in the living areas and the fire. Once the lights were dimmed, we’d put some music on and write the night’s menu on the blackboard.

Although it was sometimes stressful, I liked dinner service the best. I like cooking, and even though at first it was daunting cooking to such a high standard for so many people, once we knew the recipes and had done them a couple of times it was much easier.

 

7pm: Canapés

The evening started with canapes and drinks at 7pm. Canapés could be anything of our choice, so this was our opportunity to get creative! After a few weeks of trialling new ideas we worked our favourite canapés (didn’t go wrong, crowd-pleasers, took less time..) and kept those on rotation.

Alongside canapés, we would also serve a complimentary drink from the bar. This could be anything from the bar or wine, or sometimes we’d make cocktails! Espresso martinis always went down well, but it took us a few weeks for Kaluha to appear on the shelf at Promocash!

 

7.30pm: Dinner

 

Dinner would be served at 7.30pm, and we’d start by asking the table what wine they would like with that evening’s meal. During our training week, we spent an evening with a sommelier – learning about different qualities and characteristics of wine and how to pair wines with different foods. We’d always recommend a red and a white – sometimes the whole table would just trust us and go with our recommendation, other times they’d pick a favourite from the menu and have the same every night.

Dinner consisted of a starter, main, dessert & cheese. In the beginning, this was a super stressful time! The dishes were still fairly new, so we weren’t confident on timings. We’d follow the recipes we had but things always seemed to take longer than they were meant to… Especially rice! We also had a few minor nightmares of forgetting certain things (to cook the veg, make the sauce…) but luckily these all were quick to cook, so I don’t think it was too obvious.

After a few weeks, we’d started to really nail our dinner routine. James was front of house, I cooked the starter & main but left him to do dessert. We’d plate everything up together, as a lot of our dishes were quite fiddly with the presentation. I’d keep an eye on drinks whilst James did dessert, and make a start on any washing up – there was usually a LOT of it. As soon as desserts were out we’d plate up the cheeseboards, then do any final cleaning/tidying. We’d brush & mop the kitchen floor, wipe down all sides and make sure the kitchen looked spotless. When guests were finished with dessert we’d pop the plates in the dishwasher and put it on, take out cheeseboards and ask if anyone wanted any other drinks before we left. Occasionally people would have coffee, but usually, they’d just want some more wine! We’d do one last final tidy, empty the bins (which we’d drop at the bins on our way home) and bag up any leftovers we had (which would be our dinner!). Our guests always chose to have their cheeseboards at the dinner table, so we rarely had to completely clear the table in the evening as our guests would stay there after we’d gone home.

If we had a day off the next day, we’d lay out everything for breakfast the next morning & put everything on one shelf on the fridge for them to help themselves. We’d also leave out a cake for the next day too for afternoon tea.

We’d do a final check with our guests that they didn’t need anything else and that we were okay to go, and then we were outta there! We would always give ourselves a goal of what time we wanted to be out that night – the same as we did each morning. We found we worked better under pressure and it gave us a sense of accomplishment when we met our targets! When the new series of Love Island started, the whole flat would rush back in time for it to start at 10pm!

On average we were usually home by 10pm – sometimes even earlier if we had a smaller group! There were evenings that were later – this could be due to dinner service starting later, or taking longer. When we had groups with younger children, this seemed to be the case as they’d have to put the kids to bed at some point. Our first few weeks we were lucky to be home by 11pm! But as I’ve said before, it was all about getting into the swing of things… The first few weeks were the hardest, but as we grew more confident and had done everything a couple of times, it was much easier.

 

 

10pm (ish): Home!!

 

Yes – this is a freezer bag of spag bol!

Ahhh, finally.. We’d leave the chalet, drop our bags off at the bins and then we were HOME. We’d always walk in the flat and shout hello to see if we were first home – sometimes we were, but usually not for long! Unless it had been a bad day and we were home super late, we never went straight to bed. This was also our time to eat our leftovers from service – aka our dinner. Or, we’d cook ourselves a bowl of pasta – you’ve never seen one flat eat so much pasta! The evenings were our flat time – we all would have a beer/glass of wine, chat about how our evening had gone or moan about anything that had gone wrong! We had an amazing flat and loved everyone we lived with, so these evenings were so important to us. Chalet hosting is a tough job, so having this time to all unwind, vent and share stories was what kept us going!

 

So there you have it – a very detailed insight into what went on for us as Chalet Hosts each day. This is just a standard day – we also had shopping day & changeover day which involved much more than this, and I’ll write about those in due time. It was a crazy job, and a lot of work. But for the time on the slopes, it’s worth it. We left early for a number of different reasons, one of the main ones being that we just didn’t have the time to run our company which we had to put first. I think maybe if we’d read something like this before going, we’d have realised just how much time we would’ve had and could’ve made a better decision about how we’d have weighed up our workload. So, I hope that this is helpful to anyone considering a ski season, for an honest breakdown of what we did each day!

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. May 9, 2020 / 4:51 pm

    Looks like it was a cozy and delicious experience! I love your pictures

    • Charlotte
      Author
      May 10, 2020 / 6:23 pm

      I definitely ate very well! Thank you so much x

  2. May 11, 2020 / 6:30 pm

    What a great adventure! Sounds like hard work but also rewarding experience! X

    • Charlotte
      Author
      May 13, 2020 / 8:53 am

      It really was – we learnt so much but I’ve never been so exhausted! x

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