Chalet Couple | Who we worked for...
Here’s the grand reveal. The company we worked for. The brand we represented. The company that really inspired us, helped us grow and respected all we did!!
Sense the hint of sarcasm there? Believe it or not, this is the shortened version too...
Shit company, reveal yourself;
Oh. Never heard of them? Well, neither had we until we realised they hire non-experienced couples, offer full training and were the first people to get back to us offering a role…winning eh!?
Well, they’re a small chalet company with chalets in Les menuires, La Tania, La Plagne and Les Arcs. 20 chalets in fact. So, I’d say they’re not that small anymore but I guess some companies never fully grow out of that small company mindset.
If you haven’t guessed already, this won’t be a glowing review. And I know they’ll read this because as they so proudly told us in training (or perhaps that was more bullshit that they fed us) they have software in the HQ that flags up new content with the words ‘ski amis’ in it. Well, flag away my dear friends because you have some home truths coming your way.
I was in two minds over whether to post this or not but, we’ve got our deposit back now so fuck it.
Oh, and for anyone thinking I’m just being bitter, I’m well aware that seasonairres get treated like modern slaves on shitty contracts working untenable hours. However, this company take it to the extreme and the amount of people who have messaged us on here and told us face to face how much of a raw deal we’ve had goes some way in proving my statement. Perhaps the company could do a little focus group research in resort with real seasonaires to gain an understanding. Search for them on Glassdoor if you don’t believe our word alone. We all actually felt shame telling others who we worked for because it would always be followed by wide eyes and a concerned face looking back.
Getting a job was simple. Very easy interview and within a couple hours offered the job. So far so good. Contracts come and signed and deposits paid. Except the deposits are three hundred pounds each (300!)! I wrote that out for full effect you see. Three fucking hundred pounds!! That’s £600 per chalet couple and because you guessed it they ONLY take on people who haven’t done a season before, we’re all naïve as fuck and think it’s normal; it’s not normal. It should have been a bright red fucking flag.
A deposit is normal in most (but not all) companies and should cost around £100 each to secure your flight etc. Not fucking triple that. Each!! I’ve also been reliably informed other companies pay this back even if you leave early – not in the case of Ski Amis of course. To them, it’s a fucking cash cow and they don’t pay it back until the June after you leave. And that’s minus all the deductions of course for things which employees should not be paying for…but more of that later. Anyway, it should have been a red flag yet we all missed it. Smart recruitment and personnel protocols Ski Amis, one-nil to you.
Then it’s off to training you go for 2 and a half weeks. Excitedly you peer onto your bed at your new uniform and, wait. That’s not a new uniform. That’s at least 5 years old. Yep, seriously, no one gets new uniform. What a tight way to save money eh? Yeah, they bang on about looking smart and being clean shaven (with the director even putting a lighter up to my face because I had a small amount of stubble in training – yeah, he’s a crazy chauvinistic, sexist, racist Dutch bastard) yet they give you grubby old uniform that’s bobbly, buttons and zips missing and the same design as when they started 20 years ago! Heck, it may even be the same fecking uniform! And when you get into resort with your shit attire you realise every other company gives out lush puffa jackets, north face and jack wolfskin gear etc etc while you stand there looking like a cunt in your old navy gear. The trousers, by the way Ski Amis, are absolutely horrendous. They look like industrial standard mechanic cargo trousers. Classy.
The training is a laugh with your mates but still hard work but the actual ‘training’ that goes on is dogshit. It shouldn’t be called training. No professional chef teaching you, no sessions on cooking, no sessions on cooking for big numbers and no sessions on cooking for big numbers, on time and keeping food warm. An online level 2 hygiene course was offered though that you have to complete in your own time, how kind! They’d rather sit you down for 2 hours to tell you about their hypnos beds (which, by the way, we did not rotate once so fuck your training) and how to fold a napkin! The important stuff like maintaining a jaccuzzi lasts about 10 minutes, which was no wonder they all broke or froze during training and beyond!
But the biggest problem with training? The fear that is instilled into each and every slowly dying member of staff. They suck any positivity you had right out your nostrils and leave you wondering just how you ended up picking this shit out of all the options. ‘’Do this you’ll be sacked’’. ‘’Do this and you’ll be going home’’. ‘’Do this and you’ll lose your deposit’’. ‘’Leave and you’ll still pay for your lift pass’’ etc etc etc. Again, the crazy Dutch director does his own imitation of an aeroplane (flying you home) by holding out his arms out from his fat fucking stomach and swinging side to side was a constant feature of training. Not to mention his outdated regimented style of screaming through the halls to get people to do what he wanted. Ex-army, obviously. Like I said, pure fear mongering.
We were all shit scared of losing our jobs right from the beginning that we resented the company from the start. There was NEVER any form of positive reinforcement, it was always driven by fear and the noose that was your £600 deposit per couple PLUS paying back a £1000 loan for your lift pass. yes, they threatened you with that too because you signed a contract that stated it was a 'loan'. No incentives, no prompts, no treats and nothing to reward good performance. No wonder we started taking the piss in the end because it also meant no loyalty. Oh, we were promised minibar commission at the start though but they always seemed to be ‘working’ on it. Or blaming those staff members that left for taking it, hmm. In fairness, we did receive it 6 months after leaving though and amounted to about 5% commission, woohoo!
Then came the realisation that they hired too many chalet couples for the number of chalets they actually had. And no, that wasn’t for reserve couples as they had them already! Therein started the panic, competition mode of everyone bricking it every time it was their time to cook dinner that night fearing that in a weeks’ time they’ll be adjudged to have been too crap to stay! Eventually, one couple had to leave, saving all our roles but still, pretty shitty tactics.
Then, you get 2 days in your chalet before guests arrive. But of course, no one’s maintained them over the summer so you’re left with an absolute shit show. Broken dishwashers, broken washing machines (because, oh yes, unlike ALL the other companies, you do all your laundry all week. No delivery for you because that would make your job too easy!), great massive 3 floor leaks, flooded staff accommodation, showers not working, frozen pipes, bed bugs (really!) and a shit ton of rat traps and dead mice to deal with. Yes, that’s your issue now. How some of the chalets passed an end of season inspection is beyond me too…particularly the staff accommodation, jeeze. I bottled publishing the staff accommodation blog whilst out there for fear of identification, but you’ll be able to feast your eyes upon it soon folks.
All that work shouldn’t be a problem for the maintenance team though right? Nah. They sacked them or pushed them out. The worst thing? That was by Christmas and they eventually filled one of the three vacant posts in March, happy days! So not only did all our shit not work, the shit that did work and eventually broke never got fixed unless you were a handyman yourself!! You try doing changover of a massive chalet with one domestic (that’s right folks, a huge 6kg capacity) washing machine and have it all washed and dried by Saturday night…it’s not possible!
And, even when we did have maintenance guys, the crazy dutch bastard would rather they went to his personal house and lacquered his hot tub than sort out a chalet shit pipe that was slowly leaking in the entrance and ingraining into the carpet. The stench was fucking horrendous and all we could do was cover the floor with chipboard and apologise. ‘oh, it’s just a leak but it’s getting fixed’ we would explain to guests. Yeah, 4 weeks later after you’ve fucked off home mate, sorry.
Remember that fear that was put into us in training too? Oh yeah that persisted with us for quite a while. We were petrified someone was going to check our freezer full of frozen meals and cakes ready for the upcoming weeks so we didn’t start doing it until February time and my god how much easier it got! We were afraid one complaint would see us thrown on a plane that we did every little job to exacting detail for far too long. Even when people said they didn’t mind their rooms not being cleaned (each fucking day we were supposed to do it can I add!) we did for fear of retribution! So, at this point we really despised the company but they still had a fear hold against us.
Then it all came to a head when we all realised what a piece of shit company Ski Amis really was. On the Friday, 2 out of 3 maintenance guys got sacked. Pretty shitty because, yeah they liked to drink, but still got their jobs done. Then the following day possibly the most liked bloke out of our cohort was frogmarched from his room at 8am and given 1 hour to pack his belongings and leave. And for what heinous crime you ask? Well, 2 complaints really.
One, he left the tea and coffee on the side of the kitchen rather than on the table when covering another chalet on their day off (yeah, we cover each other’s chalet on their day off to put the fucking kettle on and put a bit of bread out, meaning you have differing days off and extra work to do!!) And two, he forgot to put some gluten free bread out. Yep. Not a word of a lie. So not only was he working in a 28 bed chalet with only 2 others for half the season (when there should have been 4 people but the company were too stingy when someone left in training; smart girl!) and receiving good reviews from people, even being offered jobs afterwards, but he was sacked for those miniscule complaints. Easy way to pocket £300 I guess for the company.
Not only that though, given one hour to get out of his home for the last 2 months in a foreign country with no money or family to support him. Harsh as fuck and verging on illegal I suspect. Ski Amis, you need to realise you are not only employers but also landlords at this point. You have a duty of care for your employees/tenants and seem to grossly misinterpret your responsibilities. Shame on you.
But hey, I’m glad it royally backfired once that happened. It set into motion a chain of events which could have been avoided and we all set blame squarely at the company. So, Friday 2 employees sacked, Saturday; employee sacked. Come Sunday, the third maintenance guy walked out because he was stuck in a tiny village somewhere on his own now his mates were sacked. That then led to our resort manager leaving because she was seeing the last maintenance guy at the time and then a good friend of the guy sacked on the Saturday left, leaving only 1 person in the 28 bed chalet. And he had only joined on the Friday because the original chef left due to personal circumstances!
You can see what a shit show that week was but looking back I fucking love it and hope the company were sweating! Oh, then that new chef left a couple days later because he saw how shit it was (although he was also a secret alcoholic which it slightly hilarious too when we found stashed chalet wine bottles around his room!) leaving just the support couple to come in and clean up the shit.
You’d think with all the changes that occurred that week we would receive some communication regarding forward plans etc, particularly as we were without a resort manager for months. But, no. nada. Not a single email to explain what would be happening. The operations manager, well, I’m not entirely sure what operations she’s managing because when it did go tits up, I saw her in resort once and even then, it was just bullshit that came out of her mouth. Her favourite sayings were ‘’it’ll be okay’’, ‘’it’ll get easier, I promise’’ and my favourite ‘’well no one complained last year’’. Yeah, probably not, but probably because they knew you’d have some lame ass answer and got fed up with your crap.
Okay so this is dragging on but I could seriously write a book about it. Some annoyances that made our life hard: All laundry was done in house, regardless of the size of the chalet you had to clean and dry every single bit of it. If you were in premium, that also included all the napkins, tableware and extra crap they threw on the bed.
Shopping is done by the chalet couples too. That means every Friday (when, by the way, the menu was the fucking hardest of the week so those staying at home had no time to do fuck all else but cook) 20 of us would drive an hour away to the cheapest cash and carry. We’d then walk around collecting our stuff before going to the car park where they would bulk buy all the vegetables for 20 chalets for 4 different locations. We then had to split the veg based on the number of guests for the following week. Literally, have you every split a ton of potatoes? Or 50kg of carrots? We even had to split bunches of thyme, mint and coriander! Seriously, splitting it by the bunch! Then we had to drive back, put it away and dispose of the cardboard etc and continue with the evening service. it was a total bull ache, took the best part of the whole day and probably saves them about 20p after you factor in man hours, diesel and wear and tear on the hire vans.
Oh and the stocktake you do every day to generate those shopping lists is just horrendous too. weighing out dried herbs each week, really!?
And the really fucked up thing about Ski Amis and the shopping was that despite all this work to get it, deliver it, prepare it and cook the food…they also made us pay for it!! That’s right, they took £120 pounds out of our wages (each!) to pay for the food each month. Absolute tight bastards. Just charge £10pp more each holiday and its more than covered but nope, they’ll take from the staff. See our wage slip to see what they
really pay. ‘competitive rates of pay’ my arse. After their shitty deductions you’re left with £280 a month (and that’s after they give a gracious £10 extra a month if you’re in a premium or large chalet). It works out as almost half the nearest least paid company that I could find in resort. Read our blog on pay here…I really wasn’t lying!
You have to clean the rooms every single day, rather than twice a week like most other companies, you have to offer a full English to each guest (with all 4 types of eggs) and tailor their orders as they wish each and every morning unlike every other company. You’re not allowed to ski on Fridays and Saturdays EVEN IF you finish all your jobs and have nothing to do. You cover each others day off so staff are split into Tuesday or Wednesdays day off which makes socialising with them absolutely shit and all that to just go into the others chalet, put the kettle on and throw out some bread. I’m sure guests come back year after year just for that touch, don’t they? Or, in reality, it means fuck all to them and just infuriates the staff members, reducing morale and therefore producing a shittier job! Plus, you’re forbidden from going round to each other’s chalet or even private accommodation if they have it…why!?
Finally (although I could go on) STAFF pay for any missing money from the minibar stock. Yep you read that right, they convey such little trust in their staff that anything missing is presumed to have been stolen by you, so you pay. Not the fact its run as an honesty bar and if guests don’t mark their takings down or don’t pay up, that’s still your fault of course.
Just generally, it’s such a shit show of a company from the operations point of view. Incompetent is the best word to discribe them. They even brought in a new resort manager after a few months, who then had to run a chalet by himself because another couple got injured, but did they give him support to still do the resort manager role? Did they fuck! They literally expected him to still do the two roles seamlessly and bollocked him if things went wrong!
And then, they stop buying food for the last week. So that’s a full week of guests and menu to make with the leftovers of the previous week but also, despite paying for it, you get no food for the 4 days you have to close down your chalet. What kind, caring individuals you have running Ski Amis. They got us 6 pizzas though...between 16 staff...for four days...
There are too many nuisances to write about. Not a single person liked the company and I can see why they only hire non-experienced people, because they can manipulate you into thinking this way of working is fine…it’s not. The management you have are inept and wouldn’t get anywhere in a job back home and your methods of management, or should I say control, are barbaric. Give your staff some support, cut them some slack, stop making the job as hard as it can be and offer a bit of compassion. Basically, just stop treating people like shit. If you need a consultant employee representative to explain how to move forward, drop us a line.
Maybe it was just this year. But maybe not. Because whenever anybody would speak up about any of the above, it would get rebuked with ‘well we’ve done this for 20 years and no one’s complained quite this much’.
Well, maybe you hired people too smart for your bullshit this year. You’re going to get found out one day and I hope that day is soon. You need to remember that with no staff, you have no customers. So, remember that whilst you’re sat on your pedestal of a shitty management role when back in Britain you’d struggle to maintain a Junior position. All the best.
Chalet Couple x