Work A Ski Season in Verbier
Discover information on working a ski season in Verbier and browse winter jobs.Switzerland
Part of the interconnected Four Valleys, Verbier is one of the most famous resorts in the Swiss Alps.
It is also one of the bigger ski resort towns in terms of après-ski in the Swiss Alps, meaning that as a seasonal worker you will meet an endless stream of new people over the course of the season. Expect to come across a lot of Brits, in addition to the Swiss, French and Italians.
The off-piste terrain at Verbier is truly excellent, although beginners and intermediates will be less impressed by Verbier. The season runs from early December to late-April. Lower areas will close earlier if the snow conditions fail which can be a problem at Verbier due to low average snowfall.
Location and Getting to Verbier
Verbier is a two hour drive from Geneva (passing through Chamonix along the way), right near the border with France, in the canton of Valais. The last part of the drive up to the hill from Le Châble is a steep, windy climb. The closest main town is Martigny, half an hour down the mountain.
If arriving internationally, Geneva is the most convenient airport at which to arrive. There are no public buses from Geneva to Verbier, so the best way by public transport is to take the train from Geneva to Martigny, and then a public bus from Martigny to Le Châble at the base of Verbier. From Le Châble, you then take the Gondola up to Verbier, or one of the local shuttles.
If you don’t want the hassle, there are private transfers available from Geneva. These take around 3 hours and cost around 100CHF per person. A few transfer companies include The Ski Fleet Airport Transfers, Journey Begins, Alpybus and AlpineXpress.
From the UK, there are direct coach services such as Eurolines, National Express and Ouibus.
You could also look at flight options to the local Sion airport, which is only 44km from Verbier, although these are likely to be more expensive.
Verbier is one of Switzerland’s high-end resorts, attracting upmarket clientele. The lifts are slick, and the options for activities are numerous. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost, which hits the paltry seasonal worker wage quite hard.
Nonetheless, if you don’t intend to save money, Verbier can be a very fun place to work. Après-ski is huge at Verbier, probably among the top few resorts in Switzerland for nightlife. There are plenty of bars and pubs, with a number of places only getting going once the sun has well and truly set.
The town of Verbier is quite walkable meaning you can easily get home after a night out. However, there is no central area for lifts which can mean lugging your gear to get to where you need to be to start the day.
Le Châble is a small town down the mountain which has additional accommodation and a quieter nightlife. The cable car service runs during the day from 8.30 until 18.30 and there is a bus service once the cable car closes.
Terrain at Verbier
Verbier is made up of four areas – Verbier, La Tzoumaz/Savoleyres, Bruson and Mt Fort/4 Valleys. Overall, Verbier is best suited for more advanced riders as there isn’t a lot of good beginner and intermediate terrain.
If you love off-piste, Verbier is a sweet place to work a season, but you’re less likely to get as much out of the resort if you don’t like going off-piste. All the best terrain at Verbier is off-piste. Remember avalanche precautions if going off-piste as the terrain won’t be avalanche primed.
Verbier is part of the Four Valleys, which are a series of resorts all connected by lifts. The connected resorts are Thyon, Veysonnaz and Nendaz (all together known as Printze). Added to Verbier’s terrain, it makes the entire area one of the most diverse in the Swiss Alps.
Bruson is a little separated from the rest of the resort and takes around 45 minutes. There are some nice trees over at Bruson which are good for bad-weather days.
La Tzoumaz/Savoleyres is a good place to start tackling off-piste terrain. The runs at the top fall off the ridgeline, above the tree-line and funnel down to some nice trees.
Verbier is the best place for beginners and intermediates, with some nice long runs which are quite wide. As the runs here are south-facing, the snow often gets slushy in the afternoon.
Mt Fort is where the action is for off-piste. There are so many lines to hit up here and around Mt Gelé that you should have plenty to tackle over the course of the season. The terrain up here is pretty much exclusively advanced and expert terrain, with bowls, chutes and rocky lines, so you need to be well-prepared if you go up there.
The trails at Mt Fort aren’t always marked well either so it is good to go with a guide if you are hitting the more intrepid parts of Mt Fort, especially the backside, for example, where you can end up at the town Siviez.
The views from up the top of Mt Fort are spectacular with incredible views over the surrounding mountains including the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
Col des Gentianes to Stairway is a nice off-piste run if you head left and climb the couloir. This will end at Tortin.
Attelas to Couloir Creblet is another nice run if you head left along the ridge above Lac des Vaux and then straight down into Carrefour.
One of the toughest mogul fields in the Alps is Chassoure to Tortin.
Snow and Weather
Verbier is not the best place for those looking for massive snowfall.
Average snowfall is just 130 inches or 3.5 metres which is not even that big for the Alps, let alone compared to North America or Japan.
This means that the snow on the tougher terrain can often be quite hard and crunchy. Genuine powder days are few throughout the season, and even when it has snowed overnight, there are plenty of crowds to quickly track this out.
The weather is quite mild, usually around 0c to -10c. At Verbier, bands of high pressures can cause what’s known as a temperature inversion, where it is colder at the base than higher up the mountain. Fog can form during these times and remain for weeks on end in the villages, while the runs up higher get a load of sun.
La Chaux Park is located under the Chaux Express. Park is not Verbier’s strong point. The park has a few kickers, rails and an air bag to test out your tricks. There is a pipe out at Thyon but it’s annoying to get to with drag lifts and cat tracks.
Finding a Job at Verbier
Speaking French is pretty much a necessity to work at a business in town. In addition, you will need to hold an EU passport to work in a local business, given the strict laws around foreigners working in the EU. Unfortunately, while cash-in-hand jobs used to be possible to find, they are now quite rare.
See Work at a Ski Resort in Switzerland for further information on visa options for Switzerland.
Your second option for work is to find a job with a tour operator (see below).
Verbinet posts some jobs around town at www.verbinet.com/offers/jobs
You may also be able to find jobs advertised at www.verbier.ch/en/verbier/jobs-ads/jobs.htm
Hospitality and nanny jobs are quite common.
Tour companies offer full-service package holidays to tourists, and jobs include ski guides, chalet hosts, cleaners, nannies and chefs.
Tour companies operating in Verbier include:
- Ski Verbier
- Powder White
- Ski Armadillo
- Bramble Ski
- FlexiSki Ski
- Freedom Ski
- Peak Ski
- Oxford Ski Company
If you’re working as a guide with a group of guests, then La Marmotte, Chez Simon, Cabane de Tortin and Chez Danny will usually give you a free lunch if you bring a group in.
Transfers are simple at Verbier compared to other places in the Alps. The journey to Geneva is along the valley floor and can be done in less than two hours which is a big bonus if you are working as a driver.
At Geneva airport, a good tip is to check out the staff only restaurant in the charter terminal. Inside, you can get reasonably priced food, chat with other seasonal workers and maximise your time sitting inside in the warmth (meaning you only go outside to meet the guests when you see them arriving).
Ride Time, Pay and Perks
Tour operators pay 60 to 100 pounds a week but generally include a season pass, accommodation and food. Other jobs will pay around 3500 francs a month unless you get a bad deal.
Finding Accommodation for the Season
www.verbier.ch/en/verbier/jobs-ads/jobs.htm has a list of seasonal accommodation available at Verbier. You can find accommodation from around 8,000 CHF for the season for a one room apartment (which might be shared by a couple), going up to 30,000CHF – 35,000CHF if you share with four people.
Per room, per season, you could expect to pay around 6,000 CHF or a little cheaper if you find a good deal in a share house.
Guinnard Real Estate might be able to help [email protected]
As for where to live, within the Verbier village Savoleyres is the furthest you would want to live. It is 20 minutes away from the main action in town and the buses finish at 7pm. The cable car only starts at 8.30am from Le Châble so this is not really an option unless you have a car to get up the mountain to work.
For shopping and groceries, Coop has free delivery in the centre of town, while Migros is a cheaper option.
Nightlife and Bars in Verbier
Apart from the awesome off-piste terrain, the other big drawcard of working at Verbier (for some) is the huge party and après-ski scene. There are so many bars, and Verbier is so famous for its parties, that many people on holidays at Verbier make skiing a second priority.
Le Pub Mont Fort is the most popular bar in town. The locals come here, as well as seasonal workers and visitors. Pub Mont Fort is reputed to sell more beer than any other bar in Switzerland to give you an idea of how popular it is. Nelson Pub is a really popular seasonal worker’s bar as is Kings Bar, where you will find the best cocktails in town.
For live music, the Farinet overlooks Place Centrale and has a great vibe. Après-ski kicks on until 11pm and many seasonal workers agree it’s the best place in town for live après entertainment. Cosy Crock No Name near Savoleyres also has a more chilled out vibe, with live music and cocktails.
Offshore is a cool place to begin a night out. It is the closes après-ski joint to the Médran lift which means you are likely to end up here at some point during the season.
For clubs, the Étoile Rouge Supper Club is close to Place Centrale and has a generally heaving vibe with Eurotrance trough the night, while the Farm Club has a rockier feel. Taratata is another fun place for dancing which only gets busy from 1.30am.
Fer de Cheval is a nice place for a bite or a coffee during the day. It gets really crowded, so come in early from the slopes or come during the afternoon for a snack.
For winter events, Verbier is hard to beat in the Alps. There are several awesome events during the season (and the après-ski really gets going while these events are on).
Xtreme Verbier is one of the best freeride events in the Alps. It is part of the Freeride World Tour and is held on the Bec des Rosses couloir. Watch these guys throw down massive cliff hucks and navigate incredibly tight chutes.
Verbier High Five pits pros against the public in a series of downhill events such as giant slalom and ski cross.
Patrouilles des Glaciers is organised by the Swiss Army and is a ski tour race. You can watch them as they complete certain stages, such as the sprint in town at the end or up the top of Mont Fort.
Other Tips for Enjoying your Winter Season
During the season, you should head down to Le Châble a few times as it is a nice, little Swiss town with cosy cafés. Martigny, just beyond Le Châble is also great to explore during the season, particularly the old ruins.
From Martigny, you are able to access the Swiss train network to get you anywhere you want to visit in Switzerland. In terms of other ski resorts, Chamonix is just one hour away if you have a car while Zermatt is 1.5 hour drive. You can take the train to each of these places which will take a little longer, allowing for transfers. To Chamonix, you will need to transfer in Vallorcine. To Zermatt, you will need to transfer in Visp.