So you’ve just booked your next or first chalet holiday, you’ll be looking forward to being cleaned up after and cooked for. Have you thought about how many hours go into all the work that your hosts do to make your holiday perfect? What about tipping? Do I make my bed? Here we will try and explain everything to do with going on your chalet holiday, for those who are new to this unique experience or those that are pro-chalet goers but need a little reminded of how to behave!
Before your holiday –
Before you even jump on a plane or train and head out to the snowy mountains there are a few things you and your group should be aware of.
- Dietaries – If you only do one thing before your holiday please let it be this! Dietaries are becoming a large issue for hosts, due to guest not replying to emails or informing us of dietary requirements. Dietaries are never usually an issue as long as hosts know in plenty of time and can change menus or prepare special meals. In France is quite typical for the French to give you a vegetarian meal which consists of the same meal as everyone else but without the meat, usually leaving your with potatoes and salad. With this in mind the French are becoming more aware of special diets for example; Celiac or lactose. There supermarkets now stock a lot more food for these special diets thus making your hosts life easier whilst preparing your meals. With this in mind, hosts only go shopping once a week and if a top up shop is done in resort, the shop in resort may not have the dietary things they require. Some companies are adopting an extra fee for dietary requirements; this is due to the rise in the vegan diet and gluten intolerance. Dairy alternative milk and gluten free bread can be expensive in French supermarkets and especially in resort. Most companies don’t include vegetarians in this extra fee as this can be catered for very easily but it is still a good thing to let the host know beforehand.
- Read the Pre-Arrival Email – Your pre-arrival email will contain all the information for your holiday, information on the chalet, what’s included and what you need to bring with you. It is really important that one of your party reads this information as there may be something you don’t want to miss, for example; don’t forget your swimming costume for the hot tub (It happens every week!)
A picture of me clearing snow…. again! After the crazy amount of snow we had this winter, this needed clearing once a day if not twice! Believe it or not there are steps under all that snow!
When you arrive –
Your transfer has just pulled up outside, it’s snowing and your excited to get into your chalet. But there are a few things to know about when you do.
- Previous Guests – As chalet holidays run from week to week, guests arrive and depart on the same day. Meaning your hosts will cook breakfast, flip and clean the whole chalet and then welcome you and do dinner service all in one day. (That was just a light description of what your host is expected to do in one day!) This does mean that sometimes you will arrive and the previous guest will still sipping tea and waiting for their transfer to the airport. It does also sometimes mean that those previous guest will be out skiing all day but will have to return to collect their bags and change their clothes, even though you are now in your chalet. This can be a very difficult situation for your host as it does mean they can sometimes be entertaining double the amount of guests on the busiest day of the week. Be patient and have this in mind that it could happen either on your arrival day or even on your departure day.
- Check in/out times – For most companies check out time is 10am and check in time is around 4/5pm. This is because of the amount of work the hosts have to do on this day. Most experienced chalet hosts will have their chalet ready before then so it is sometimes possible to be let in early. Hosts will usually let you store your bags either in a boot room or the hallway downstairs whilst they finish cleaning the chalet allowing you to head off for some lunch or to sort lift passes out etc. Please be aware that sometimes there will be the previous guest luggage also stored in the same place so it’s not always convenient to arrive before the check in time. You will not be allowed In the chalet as having an extra 15 people now walking in and saying ‘oh wow the floor is dirty’ before you’ve had chance to clean it is not exactly fair. This also goes for using the toilet, we know you’ve just been on a plane and then in a minibus for sometimes hours but unless there is a separate toilet it’s not always possible or even fair to expect to relive yourself when your hosts are trying to clean. It’s a fair comment to say ‘think about your arrival times and perhaps to stop you from waiting to enter your chalet, arrive at a time after check in to ensure that you are allowed straight in.’ You could also ask your host when the chalet would be ready, if they say 3pm it is courtesy to arrive at 3pm as your host will be waiting to welcome you in hoping they can run off for a shower before serving your dinner.
- Dietaries again – Once you are settled in your chalet and your host is back to do dinner service, it is now another chance to tell them about any last minute or forgotten dietaries. It can happen and your host will understand but at this point in your holiday it may not be possible to accommodate your needs. A good chalet host will go above and beyond to try and cater for you. It is hard to cater for dislikes as everyone has something they don t like, it is possible at times to change or leave things out, for example; mushrooms or peppers but telling your host in advance can only save you from either having to eat everything else but your dislike or not having any dinner. Telling your host as they present your plate down in front of you is not acceptable and will leave your host in a bad position with nothing else to offer you. (This happens very often and is really unfair as it doesn’t allow us to try and prepare something different for you.) If you don’t like tomatoes, it is just as easy to eat around them instead of making a fuss as it is placed in front of you. Let you host know in advance or enjoy those dislikes!
Mixed groups, shared chalet holidays –
Chalet companies sell out their chalets on either a room by room basis or rent the whole chalet, this does mean if you rent a room for the week you will share the chalet with other guest who you have never met before. For this, it is important that you are considerate and kind to the other guests. This will be hard week for your host as it means catering to everyone’s needs, sometimes maybe 4 or 5 groups of people will arrive and need different things or food requirements. Is it important to arrive to meals at set times as you are not just delaying your host but the rest of the group, if you are late the host should start meals without you. It is also respectful to keep noise to a minimum in the chalet after hours, if you want to party then you should book the whole chalet as it is not fair on other guests to keep them awake because you don’t want to sleep.
On our first season me and our other host Ioan cleaning windows! What you cant see is that is the second floor and we both stood on the windowsill to make sure the windows were beautiful!
If you bring your children there a few things to help your host out with, your hosts will usually ask you some questions on how to keep your kids happy.
- Children’s meals – Kids are notoriously fussy and without warning can be very upset if you serve them their dinner in the shape of a face (true story!) Children’s meals are usually served earlier on in the evening as it is separate from the adult menu. Depending on whether your host has a free run of their menu or whether it is a set menu, your host should go through what your children will be eating for the week. It’s usually a typical kids menu, fish fingers and chips, make your own pizza etc but it is important to let your host know if your children won’t eat anything. For us we know that kids don’t usually like vegetables, we will chop vegetables up into very small pieces to try and hide them within other foods such as Sheppard’s pie, but once every so often there is a kid who notices so if there super fussy let your host know.
- Toys and tiding up – At home I’m sure most parents get their kids to tidy away toys every day; this should be the same here in the chalet. To allow your host to clean the floors it is helpful to tidy up toys, personally if toys are left on the floor I will clean around them but it is easier to have a tidy floor to start with. Don’t expect your hosts to tidy up toys, especially Lego!
Poor chalet chef Jim…. making him dust the chalet! His dusting is definitely not as good as his cooking!
Your chalet hosts should be working super hard (50+ hours a week) to do everything and more of what is expected of them. Chalet hosts work extra hard in the hope of being tipped, this for us is our spending money and what we use (mainly for beer) but to keep our tummies full on days off. A lot of chalet hosts will also save this money for travelling so every little helps. It should not be expected by your host to get tipped, after all who wants to tip a host who hasn’t been helpful or gone that extra mile to make your holiday ten times better, in this rare occasion don’t tip, For good chalet hosts, we work hard to get every aspect of your holiday perfect, if they have then you should tip. A good tip is usually around 10€ per person (not much more than a good beer on the slopes) and is a great way of showing your gratitude for the hard work you host has done. You tip your waitress in the restaurant for one meal on one evening, so tipping your host should be done too.
Staff from our season in Les Carroz enjoying chips and beer in the sunshine after working hard for tips!
5 Top tips for a great Chalet Holiday
- Treat it like your home – You don’t wear your dirty shoes onto your nice clean carpet at home, please don’t do it in the chalet.
- Be fair to your hosts – they are there to make your holiday smooth and enjoyable but they also work long hours so don’t just expect them to do extra work when they won’t always have time.
- Treat them as you would like to be treated – for most people this goes without saying, your host will try and do everything they can to make your holiday the best, offering them a cup of tea here and there will go a long way!
- Look after them as they look after you – being kind and helpful to your hosts is a great way of saying thanks, even just making your bed in the morning can give your host a few more minutes to do something more important for you. Loading the dishwasher on the staff day off is also a big help.
- Respect – Respect works both ways, we after all are not just a chalet host but a person too. We chose to be a host; we are here to help but not to wait on your hand and foot (unless you have paid for that service!)
Overall to get a great chalet holiday be nice, respectful and most of all inform the company or hosts with the information important to making your holiday the best one yet!