When you think about working at a ski resort, does the word “liftie” first come to mind? Nothing wrong with being a lift attendant, but you may be looking for more of a full-time year- round professional career. The seasonal hourly jobs which are most visible at a ski resort are perfect for some, but many professional opportunities exist as well that keep local mountain residents happily employed, year after year. Ski resort jobs can be broken down into three categories; seasonal, full-time seasonal or full-time year-round.
Starting with the seasonal job, the majority of employees in this group has either just recently graduated college or intends to work seasonally until they figure out what they really want to do. Many are exploring their options, taking time off before grad school, or checking out a new locale. These jobs might appeal to a recent college graduate, die-hard skier who has just spent the last 20 years going to school every day and wants to live for skiing for the next year or two. Another candidate for these jobs may be the person who has spent the last 10 to 15 years in a career, has made the move to their favorite ski resort, and wants to enjoy some time getting to know the community before settling back down into a full-time job. Retired workers are another popular segment of the seasonal resort job crew. Seasonal work is a great way to meet a lot of people, get a free ski pass and stay active. Seasonal resort jobs include ticket sales, guest services associates, ski instructors, lift attendants, food and beverage jobs: cooks, cashiers, and servers, child care, and parking and transportation workers.
Full-Time Seasonal Careers
These ski resort jobs are career-oriented and many are full-time, but only during the ski season or summer, depending on what the job entails. Ski patrol, ski school managers and supervisors, heli-ski and mountain guides are winter seasonal jobs. In a resort town with summer activities, fishing and river guides, climbing guides and many national park employees fit into this category as well. With seasonal full-time work you may work different jobs during the summer and the winter seasons, but essentially return to the same company and position each year.
This is a lifestyle that suits many active people who choose to stay in resort towns and incorporate their outdoor passions into their careers. Ski patrol is a good example of this type of job. Year after year, many ski patrollers stay with the same resort. Benefit: you’re the first one on and the last one off the mountain. You get to ski with expert skiers and really get to know the terrain. Ski patrol assists skiers and visitors all around the mountain making this a fulfilling job and career choice. A ski patroller may choose to work at the same resort doing building and grounds work in the summer, for example, and have a month or two off in between seasons each and every year. Not a bad deal to work at the mountain for the majority of the year with the benefit of having the mud-seasons off!
Full-Time, Year-Round Careers
The third category of ski resort jobs includes many full-time careers. At ski areas, the resort management is comprised of full-time staff from the CEO and CFO, to marketing and accounting professionals, human resources, department managers, and office staff. If a full-time staff position at a ski resort is what you are after, the best thing to do if you are just starting out is to just get your foot in the door. How many administrative assistants grow into resort managers? Quite a few! Ski instructors become department heads, and guest service associates become guest services managers. Many ski resorts prefer to hire from within, and you’ll find as you gain more experience, opportunities will open up throughout the country. It is not uncommon to see resort workers who become managers get promoted up the ladder and then proceed to work at various resorts throughout their ski career.
Other full-time careers you will commonly see in resort towns include hotel/restaurant management and staff, accounting/banking, architecture/engineering and design, construction, IT, education and health care. A plus for permanent residents of a resort town is that opportunities become more plentiful for those who have shown that they are committed to staying there.
Ski resorts in Virginia don’t normally jump into your mind when first considering a family ski vacation. Normally, one might think of the towering peaks found in Colorado, Utah, or New Mexico and begin to set their sights on some of the popular ski resorts found there. However, for families on the East Coast or Eastern area of the Country, the time and price involved to go to those places might be a bit too much, particularly if you allow a little more time for you to acclimate yourself to the higher elevation.
Although the mountains are not quite as tall, the good news is that you have many fine ski resorts within the Eastern United States, offering fun for your family, and Virginia has a lot of them. The reality is, the Mid-Atlantic area has plenty of ski resorts, many of which are four season resorts that include fun activities all year-long. To better acquaint you as to what all is available, here is some information on a few of the top ski resorts located in Virginia.
Wintergreen Ski Resort – Wintergreen, Virginia
Probably Virginia’s most varied ski resort; its situated within 11,000 acres of pristine forest within the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is located within Central Virginia only 1 hour 30 minutes from Richmond, Va. and approximately three hours from Washington, D.C. and North Carolina. Rising to an elevation of 3,515 feet, Wintergreen offers 26 slopes and trails, of which 14 are lighted for night skiing. The longest run is 1.4 miles, which has a vertical drop of 1,003 feet. The ski terrain mix includes approximately 23% beginner slopes, 35% intermediate, and 42% advanced/expert runs. On top of the ski runs, the resort includes 2 terrain parks and 2 tubing parks, so whether its skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing which you enjoy most, there is a little something for all.
Massanutten Ski Resort – Massanutten, Virginia
This ski resort can be found about 10 miles east of Harrisonburg, VA, within the northwestern region of Virginia, on the tip of Massanutten Mountain with an elevation of 2,880 feet. Serving guests from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and the Washington D.C. area, Massanutten offers 8 ski lifts and 14 trails, and all of these are lighted for night skiing. The ski terrain mix is approximately 30% beginner runs, 35% intermediate, and 35% advanced runs, having a vertical drop of 1,110 feet. The resort includes 2 terrain parks for skiers and snowboarders and they also host Virginia’s first snow tubing park, which opened in 1998 and contains a 900 foot long tubing hill. In addition, there’s an ice skating facility at Massanutten, which accommodates close to 132 skaters at one time.
The Homestead Ski Area – Hot Springs, Virginia
Virginia’s first skiing resort, The Homestead has operated since 1959 and is particularly famous for its wide slopes along with a great learning area. Its located off of Interstate 81 and Route 64, and merely several miles from the West Virginia border in the Allegheny Mountains. For skiers and snowboarders, the summit is 3200 feet having a vertical drop of 700 feet. The resort offers 9 trails or runs and the terrain mix is 33% beginner runs, 33% intermediate, and 34% advanced runs, with night skiing on Saturday nights. The resort has a terrain park to offer additional challenge and excitement to both skiers and snowboarders. Off the slopes there’s still ample winter fun with ice skating, snow tubing and snowmobile tours. After the fun day of activities, relax by the fire in the Mountain Lodge to warm-up and share some of the highlights of your day with loved ones.
Bryce Ski Resort – Basye, Virginia
This ski resort is very nice for first time skiers or snowboarders and wins high marks for being a family friendly ski resort. It is located in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, tucked on a low-lying ridge between the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains towards the West Virginia border. Bryce will be the closest Virginia ski resort to Washington D.C. and it is just A couple of hours away. The summit is 1750 feet having a vertical drop of 500 feet. You’ll find 8 ski runs or trails and the longest run is 3500 feet. If you are a parent or loved one who wants to watch your kids ski, then the mountain layout is great. All slopes funnel down to one central area at the base, so it’s simple to spot your children while enjoying a mug of coffee. The terrain mix is roughly 34% beginner runs, 33% intermediate and 33% advanced runs. The bottom slopes do a good job of accommodating beginners, nonetheless the upper slopes still offer challenging terrain for intermediate or advanced skiers and snowboarders. Tubing is extremely popular at this resort and their Ridge Runner’s Tubing Park offers 800 foot long snow tubing lanes to deliver fun for the whole family.
Whether it’s a quick weekend trip to the mountains to ski or snowboard, or an extended ski vacation, your family is certain to enjoy yourself. There is nothing like enjoying good quality family time amongst beautiful mountain scenery, where you can either discover how to ski or snowboard the first time or continue to challenge yourself and hone your skill. After having a day on the slopes there is nothing like enjoying a good meal and relaxing with family around a roaring fire to share stories about the day and mention both the good runs and the wipe-outs.
Working a Ski Season – You have probably heard of someone who has spent the season working in a winter ski resort job. Sure, you heard about how glamorous it was and what a fantastic time these individuals have but is it all fun and games?
Well like most jobs, a ski resort job is a JOB! So there certainly will be challenges and you will not be having the same experience as guests who are visiting the resort for a week or more of relaxing and having fun on the slopes, but if you do your research well and are careful in the resort jobs you apply for then you could land a fun job which still allows you to spend plenty of time on the mountain.
Most people when considering working a ski season want to spend as much time as possible on the mountain. If this is the case then some of the best winter jobs to apply for include, mountain guides, ski school, mountain safety and maintenance. The only issue is that several f these positions require certain skills and experience. Another alternative it to look for opportunities in bars and restaurants, if you are lucky you can land several more lucrative evening shifts and then also have more time to have fun on the snow during the day!
Normally seasonal staff working at ski resorts in the USA will work 6 days a week with 1 day off per week, pay and hours can vary a great deal depending on the positions you are working and the qualifications that the position requires.
Most people working in resorts end up finding basic entry-level positions such as lift attendants, customer service staff lift tickets sales jobs.
When To Apply – Most resorts will be operational from November time until April or even May in some parts of the US. Resorts will however start their recruitment process way before this and will often start taking applications as early as June or July for the following ski season. It is a good idea to apply early and follow-up on you application several times through emails and phone calls to show the recruitment team that you are serious about securing a job in their resort.
International Applicants – Working in a ski resort is a great opportunity to spend an extended period of time in a great location and often people will travel from all over the world to fill these jobs. In the USA international staff looking to work a ski season must come from the southern hemisphere and will be allowed to work in the US on a 5 month temporary J1 exchange visa. It is a little bit of a funny system with northern hemisphere applicants being able to apply for the visa in the summer months. This is why many resorts, especially on the west coast will have a lot of resort workers from Chile, Argentina, Peru and other countries from this region.
Top 5 Destinations For Ski Resort Jobs in the USA
So here you go, here are our unbiased top 5 destinations if you are looking for a ski resort job in the United States…
1 – Crested Butte, CO – OK so this may be a little surprise and isn’t one of the mega resorts out there but spending a season working at Crested Butte, is a wonderful experience. The resort is located in Colorado and is usually overshadowed by some of its more well known neighbours but this resorts has a fantastic reputation for having great conditions all season long. The resort is a lot smaller than many of the major resorts around the USA but this creates a more intimate feel, where you can really get to know a lot of the locals and quickly make friends in the resort. They are also very well known for looking after their employees and offer all kinds of great benefits.
2 – Heavenly Ski Resort, CA – When they decided to call this resort Heavenly they came up with a very appropriate name. The views from the top of this mountain over the beautiful Lake Tahoe certainly are breath taking. Located on the state line between California and Nevada this resort has the lot! Great snow conditions throughout the season. Plenty of different options when it comes to potential ski season jobs. A whole host of entertainment options away from the slopes with bars, restaurants, casinos and much more. It is also conveniently located easily driving distance to numerous other resort which are dotted around Lake Tahoe.
3 – Vail, CO – Well if you didn’t know Vail is the largest ski resort in the United States and each year it attracts international visitors from all over the world. With fantastic skiing and a great resort center, Vail is one of the best places in the US to land a ski resort job. The numerous hotels, bars, shops and restaurants employ hundreds of season workers during the winter months. Vail is also located near many of the other top resorts in Colorado so on your days off it is always fun to try out a different mountain for the day.
4 – Stowe, VT – If you like your ski resorts to have a little bit of history then Stowe is a great option when applying for a winter job. Located in Vermont, Stowe is one of the oldest ski resorts in the US and it still has so much character today, even with the many modern buildings that have been constructed in the resort. One of the other great things about working at Stowe is that if you fancy a day away from the mountains then you can venture over to the wonderful city of Boston and spend some time exploring.
5 – Mammoth Mountain, CA – Most people think southern California is just beaches and surfers but it is also home to one of the most fun ski resorts in the US. Mammoth Mountains offers year round outdoor activities with hiking and mountain biking in the summer and skiing and snowboarding in the winter. The resort is a great place to work with all kinds of great housing opportunities for seasonal staff, multiple job opportunities at the various businesses in the area and convenient access to LA and San Diego, so that you can spend the morning skiing and the afternoon surfing!
Breckenridge Ski Resort
· Breckenridge is a picturesque Victorian mountain town
· Main Street is lined with boutique shops, independent coffee shops, bars & restaurants
· Breckenridge is well-known for its nightlife and offers a range of restaurants from affordable to fine dining of every genre.
· Everything is close together in Breckenridge and you can walk nearly everywhere or take the free shuttle if it’s chilly or uphill!
· The slopes, lifts and ski school at Peak 9 come right down into town just by Main Street.
· The gondola runs from the centre of town up to Peak and 7 and onto Peak 8
· Peak 7 has mostly blue runs, perfect for intermediates
· Peak 8 has a newly built base area & is home to a variety of green, blue and black runs
· Peak 9 has some good beginner runs, plus other terrain
· Peak 10 has some fantastic tree & mogul skiing
· The Imperial Super chair is the highest chairlift in North America and accesses some fantastic black diamond and double black runs
· Peak 6 is being opened this year with new runs & 2 new lifts
Vail Ski Resort
· Designed in an alpine style Vail has 2 main pedestrian base villages “Vail Village” & “Lionshead Village” with gondolas rising up from each.
· The pedestrian villages have a large variety of shops (including the obligatory fur coats), restaurants & bars to stroll around, plus ice rink & fountains, although Vail village is livelier at night.
· Golden Peak base area is 5-7 minute’s walk from Vail Village and is home to the main children’s ski school (there is ski school in Lionshead too).
· There is also some accommodation in East Vail, a less expensive residential area about 15 mins bus ride from the slopes. West Vail also has some larger homes.
· Vail is the largest single resort in the USA and is famous for its 7 legendary back bowls with fantastic powder after a snowstorm. There is so much terrain though in Vail it takes a while to cover it all and mid-Vail is an area which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Aspen / Snowmass Ski Resort
· Aspen / Snowmass is known as the “power of 4″ and consists of the 4 mountains of Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk & Aspen Highlands, all interconnected by bus.
· All 4 resorts are on the same lift pass and Aspen being Aspen you can even arrange for your skis to be transferred to a different mountain for the next day’s skiing so they’re ready & waiting for you.
· Aspen town itself is well-known for its sophisticated, lively & varied nightlife
· Aspen has a plethora of restaurants, bars, designer shops, art galleries to choose from, plus has an ice skating rink & even a rugby field right in the middle.
· The rich & famous often frequent Aspen, so people watching is a sport in itself here
· Aspen mountain has a gondola from the middle of town and consists of blue runs and above but is not really for beginners.
· Snowmass has the most skiing of the 4 areas, but is a little quieter especially at night.
· Snowmass is great for families with its new ski school & childcare centre “The Treehouse” & has tons of ski in, ski out accommodation, making getting to the skiing very convenient.
· Snowmass is a huge ski area, covering every type of terrain. It even has a people mover lift which the locals call the “skittles” to take you from the base area to the mall area part way up the mountain
· Buttermilk is the beginner mountain and home to the X-games, Aspen Highland has advanced & expert including hike to terrain.
Beaver Creek Ski Resort
· “Not exactly roughing it” is their slogan and that pretty much says it all
· Guests skiing in Beaver Creek are spoilt by the escalators taking you up to the slopes so you don’t have to walk up the steps, the chaps unloading your skis from the ski bus and the complimentary freshly baked cookies at 3pm each afternoon.
· On the same lift pass as Vail Beaver Creek is only about 20 minutes away
· Beaver Creek has a quiet sophistication and is slightly more reserved than the flashier Vail. It is home to the rich & famous and ex-presidents and celebrities have their homes here.
· Beaver Creek Village is compact and designed around the ice rink and has a high standard of restaurants, boutique shops, galleries & bars.
· It has some good ski in, ski out accommodation including The Osprey, Beaver Creek, which is the closest hotel to a chairlift in North America.
· Bachelor Gulch is the second base area at Beaver Creek with the Ritz Carlton Hotel and its outdoor pool at the bottom of the slopes & other ski in, ski out accommodation.
· The third area of Beaver Creek ski resort is Arrowhead. The town of Avon 10 minutes outside Beaver Creek has more affordable accommodation and has a gondola which goes up to Beaver Creek Landing, from where skiers can take another lift to access the Beaver Creek ski area.
· Beaver Creek seems to groom its intermediate slopes non-stop, plus is host to the “Birds of Prey” world cup race, which is ski-able but not for the faint-hearted!
Steamboat Springs Ski Resort
· The historic town of Steamboat is about 10 minutes drive from the main ski area.
· The town has a western feel to it with shops selling cowboy boots & hats, amongst the sophisticated restaurants
· The strawberry hot springs are natural mineral springs, just a few minute’s drive from Steamboat and are a must after some strenuous skiing.
· The ski area has 6 peaks of world-class skiing, including some fantastic glade skiing.
· Steamboat coined the name “Champagne powder” and is incredible on a powder day
· The base of the ski area is developing more and more each year and there is now the main area around the gondola and Ski Times Square just a little further along.
· There are some top-notch ski in, ski out places to stay at the base with every amenity you could imagine.
· Steamboat is pretty family friendly & offers free children’s lift passes with an adult pass, a nice touch.
Winter Park Ski Resort
· Winter Park is a down to earth town, more low-key than many of the other ski resorts and thus good value for money.
· They say that the only time you see a fur coat in Winter Park is when it’s on the animals!
· The town is where most of the shops, bars & restaurants are, set along its main street and has quieter nightlife, some late night bars, but no clubs as such.
· The base area is about 10 minutes drive or bus from town and is the closest resort to Denver.
· Winter Park Resort is known as Colorado’s favourite, is where many Coloradans learnt to ski and is still very popular with local residents
· A skiers mountain Winter Park has the most consistent snow year after year, 30 feet or so.
· Winter Park Resort consists of the main base area at Winter Park with its beginner area, intermediate & advanced runs, Mary Jane, famous for its epic moguls, Vasquez Ridge a quieter area, with blue and black runs, Parsenn Bowl, above treeline with intermediate & advanced skiing & the Cirque for expert skiers. If you’re into tree skiing, there is some fantastic natural terrain on Eagle Wind.