We arrived in Mount Buller, Victoria 6 weeks prior to the ski resort opening. It’s a pretty strange set up at Australian ski resorts, I’m not sure if it’s the same at all of them. But at Mount Buller most of the village is closed preseason so when we arrived there was only one pub/restaurant open and the local Foodworks shop which was 5 times more expensive than off the mountain.
Our living quarters were on the ground floor of the hotel, a small kitchen/living area with a TV and wii, the staff accommodation could fit about 25 – 30 staff members, when interviewing we were told our room would be very small. Our room was basically a cupboard, it was a sliding plywood door and a king size bed there was no storage or anywhere to put our bags but at least it was our own space.
We arrived on 25th April, the first members of staff at Breathtaker Hotel for the season expect the General Manager and Assistant Manager. We arrived preseason to help set up the hotel ready for opening weekend on 10th June. There were no guests in house but loads of enquires and phone calls, my role as reservations/front office involved dealing with all the enquires. As Conor would be working on the bar when the season started he had odd jobs preseason such as cleaning, maintenance, painting and pretty much everything – which he hated! Slowly more members of staff started arriving closer to the opening weekend, more restaurants and bars starting open but even when opening weekend arrived not everything was open. The first few weeks between 10th June to 24th June was classed as Winterfest, which was off peak and the prices were lower.
The snow started arriving just in time for opening weekend, although we got a lot of snow (nothing compared to Europe though) they still had to make a lot of snow with the cannons. On opening weekend there was only 2 runs open, the beginner runs! More staff starting arriving on opening weekend and the following week! Guests starting arriving on 10th June and we started to look like a real hotel!
I haven’t worked on the front desk before, only reservations (behind the scenes) but loved it, talking and meeting guests I had spent so long with over email and telephone arranging there ski holiday! It was quite a small hotel compared to our standards coming from a 106 bedroom hotel at home to just 35 apartments the largest holding up to 10 people, the pace was fast which was good but the bar wasn’t quite as Conor had expected. He had come from a top hotel in the lakes serving expensive wines and champagne to serving hot chocolates and pizzas, it was a change.
We decided to buy some second hand ski’s from Pension Grimus ski hire which was the hotel directly next door they had a good deal on for staff members, ski’s and boots for $100. We already had ski boots each which we picked up for $25 each, bargain so all we needed was ski’s and poles which cost us $100. Breathtaker offered a season pass to each staff members, which would be taken out of there pay every week. The ski passes was about $800 in total, and $150 came out your pay every week, Conor and I decided against this and were lucky enough to borrow other peoples or borrow the ski passes from the hotel for free or buy a discounted day pass for $80 but the conditions were pretty dyer compared to Europe and there wasn’t a day when we were there that all the lifts were open! I think the most was 20/25 lifts. As the season went on we started working more and more with just one day off a week, we hardly got any ski time and when we did there was either a wind hold on the chairlifts meaning only 1 or 2 were open or it was raining which was so annoying.
Doing a ski season we expected the Apres Ski to be amazing but we were extremely disappointed, some of the nights out were great but there wasn’t many bars on the snow and it was nothing like La Folie Douce. Every Tuesday the Alpine Retreat had live music on so most the staff members headed over there, this was a great night but I think the people made it. The main bar/club was the Kooroora Hotel which was open til 3am, we made our way down to the Kooroora in style ‘Penguining’. We each grabbed a bin bag, got on our bellies and penguined down the ski slope to the bottom. Our local was Pension Grimus, we headed next door to the Austrian themed bar most nights after work for a Schofferhofer. Thankfully the staff members we lived and worked with were amazing and made our time at Mount Buller unforgettable. We made some amazing friends in the mountain who we were definitely sad to leave but will definitely meet up with again.
By mid July there was still 2 months left of the season, we had made a nice amount of money and starting thinking about our farm work. We’d already completed 30 days in Margaret river but still needed 2 months to complete or 88 days before December! On 24th July we decided, our time in Mount Buller was over and decided to leave the mountain! Arriving so early was probably a mistake, as it felt like we had been there forever. The Australian ski season was exactly what we excepted hopefully the Kiwi experience is better ha ha! In the end we were so happy to leave and with the money we’d saved we managed to buy our beloved Campervan in Melbourne, so it wasn’t all bad I guess!