The seasonnaire diary that I was meant to write whilst in Megeve never really took off. I am full of excuses over this, but checking Facebook was nigh on impossible anyway, so I doubt the Soleil d’Or’s internet would have been able to deal with the upload of thousands of season pictures and rants about the unfair cleaning regimes and staffing problems which seem to be an all too common problem on seasonal jobs. So here is my winter summed up in one blog post:
I set off to Gatwick airport in the early hours of December 6th, loaded up with two holdall’s and my super nerdy backpack (it does make me look like a primary school pupil) where I met some of my colleagues before we boarded the plane. We were all buzzing from too many travel sweets and the anticipation of what the season would bring and more importantly to get on the ski slopes. We arrived at the Soleil d’Or hotel late in the evening and got unpacked and into bed as we were told that the next day would see us up early in the morning for the busy training week which would set up both of the hotels after winter.
Training week consisted of learning to clean rooms, how to lay out the tables and figuring out the bar. Much alcohol was consumed and alliances were already forming within the group. At this stage, only a few days in, I already realised that there were some people that I would get on with much better than others, but hey, that’s life. Some of the highlighted drunken antics of me and my colleagues included climbing through a bakery window, eating many cheeseburgers, a threesome (not me by the way) and some of the chalet girls chundering EVERYWHAAARRRREEE!
As the weeks went by I enjoyed many of my favourite Megevan hotspots, dressed up as Robin Sidekick for the New Years Eve superhero bash, lunch at The Radaz, sunbathing at Espace Mont Joux and consuming far too much cake ( Saturday afternoon’s Caramel Slice was literally to die for though and had the additional bonus of easing the pain that was transfer day.)
We had lots of interesting guests too. Obviously a lot of them were way wealthier than I will ever be, but generally they were a pretty cool bunch. We had racing drivers, doctors, nurses, dotcom wealth and the inheritance tax avoiders. You get to know people pretty intimately when you’re pinching their dirty pants between two fingers when you go in to tidy their rooms everyday, then blush through the conversation with them at dinner because we’re both aware that I saw those magazines that you tried to hide under your bed.
I feel rather as though I’m brushing over the details of this season, making it sound rather as though it was some big old jolly, but maybe I should give you a bit of insight as to what a typical working day entails.
6:45 am: The first alarm goes off. Outward groan. Hit snooze.
6:50 am: Second alarm. Repeat step one. Keep repeating this step until it gets to 7am.
7:00 am: Definitely cutting it fine to get up. Swivel legs out of bed into trousers that you left at the bed last night and grab t-shirt from the end of the bed. Pull over head. Scrambled around in the dark for hair bobble. Scrape hair back, ensuring there.are no ‘pubey bits’ as Chef calls them.
7:05 am: Brave turning on the lights and standing up
7:10 am Power walk to kitchen of Chalet Antoine, or breathe a sigh of relief if you must merely stand in the lift to the basement of the Soleil d’Or (I am henceforth going to abbreviate this to the ‘Soleil’.
7:15 am: Find a large mug, pour in Carrefour discount coffee granules in triple the recommended quantities and dissolve in boiling water from the already boiling jug. Accompany the mud-like mixture with a paddling pool sized bowl of cardboard cornflakes. Avoid eye contact with managers for as long as possible to put off the briefing which reminds you of where you are.
7:30 am: Breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not your turn on pot-wash or the toilets this morning.
8:00 am: Somehow end up on pot-wash anyway.
9:00 am: Crave another coffee like you have never craved coffee in your life.
9:05: Receive the daily inspirational pep-talk from Chef who thinks he is God, telling you he could do the Mont- Blanc of porridge pans in 5 minutes.
9: 45: Breathe a sigh of relief that your hands are no longer scrambling in suds and pan grease to crack on with groundfloor duties or rooms.
10:00 am: If on rooms: ‘You should be on your 5th room by now, what is taking you so long!?”
“I don’t know” I reply, angrily trying to make the corners of the duvet fit in the cover and desperately trying to smooth it out “I’m not just sat up here with my thumb up my arse you know”
“Ok well when you’ve done that, the fan in the bathroom is looking a bit grubby, could you get a toothbrush and clean it out properly? Guests DO notice these things you know”
“Sieg Heil!” Proceed to go and find a toothbrush, resisting the temptation not to use the nearest one to hand.
10:15: Move on to fifth room, pleased that the inhabitants are not dieters and nick a Cadbury’s Rose for motivation and energy. With both hands on toilet brush, saw away at the caked-on excrement, and ‘buff the chrome’ on the bath taps, knowing that despite best efforts, will be asked to go back and do it again anyway.
11:00: Quick whispered discussion (bitching session) with other chalet girl, giggle that she is ‘Not a professional cleaner, but just an 18 year old with sponge”
11:45: Hoover the corridor and smile inwardly that the worst part of the day is over and I will not have to make beds for another 20 hours. Head down to kitchen and enjoy a feast of last night’s leftovers sandwiched into a chunk of baguette.
1:00pm: Semi run in ski boots to bus stop, sweating profusely and breathing heavily.
3pm: Return from ski slopes early to squeeze in a shower and a power nap before next shift.
6: 15 pm: Arrive for evening shift: Choice of the following activities:Activity choice one: Bar work, which is actually just standing on a mostly empty bar folding napkins and polishing glasses whilst catching the highlights of the Winter Olympics with mouth agog when you see the Moguls race. Activity choice 2: Running round like a headless chicken trying to make knives and forks straight, finish job proudly before being told that it’s actually soup night and you need to remove all of the starter cutlery and replace it with soup spoons. Activity choice 3: Veg prep, the most preferable as it usually means you can just stand there and go braindead for 45 minutes whilst peeling Jerusalem artichokes, carrots and potatoes for very little hassle. Activity choice 4: Potwash again- Everest compared to the morning.
8:20 pm: Starters and mains served with relatively few dramas. Pull up a crate around the staff table in the cellar with dinner larger than what the guests would receive, using soup starter as gravy. Enjoy a few moments of sanity and immature conversation with colleagues.
9:30 pm: Dessert has been served. Try and cram in a leftover tiramisu served with a doughnut whilst frantically polishing cutlery. Get asked to go and help upstairs with clearing the dining room. Resist the urge to punch supervisor square in the nose.
10:00 pm: Guests still not budging from seats due to exciting conversation about the advantages that private education can offer. Try to clear glasses, but immediately recoil under stony glare from guest who loves free wine.
10:15pm: Eventually step out into cool night air and breathe in freedom.
I am aware that that was a very long post, but I did this everyday for four months and it is more for my own benefit that I remember this so as not to work in hospitality again. Despite the negativity about the actual job activities I did enjoy myself. It was challenging and amusing. I made some really good friends doing a season and improved my ski technique a great deal, as well as broadening my CV by having a go at nannying (best contraception EVER!) A warning for anyone who ever wants to do a season though, it is NOT for the faint-hearted!