It took the chalet a good few days to warm up. The concrete inside it acts like thermal mass, taking a very long time to heat up, but conversely giving out heat for a long time after. This meant Kerry and I had to endure a few nights of near freezing temperatures, even inside! Luckily some early Christmas presents, namely a hot water bottle, were put to good use!
We picked up our seasonnaires lift passes on Saturday 22nd but were unsure as to whether we could try them out and get a few runs in... we had been told that staff were only allowed to ski once they had guests and had finished their days duties. Throwing caution to the wind, counting on the fact we were the only staff from our company in Sainte Foy, I rushed to the equipment hire shop at 4:10 trying desperately to grab my board and get out to the lift for the last lift at 4:40. And I made it! I managed two lifts and the runs were brilliant. I took some very hard falls and it hit home just how little I seemed to remember, but those two runs were the start of my season, and I was happy.
A phone call later that night put a warm fuzzy feeling in our stomachs. We were told we weren't getting guests the next day, Sunday, because of the state of the burnt chalet and its crumbling demise being a 'serious Health and Safety risk' to guests. Our instructions were to eat all of the perishables and be ready if called upon to help in another resort.
Well I was fine with that! A luxurious chalet to ourselves, eating food that had been bought by someone else, and with nothing to do each day but snowboard, explore, drink the vino that was meant for the guests and generally chill! A holiday before we'd even started working!
A few days later and my boarding was back up to scratch, I hadn't caught an edge yet and I was getting a lot quicker. Kerry was advancing on every run. I'd get to the bottom, turn to face up the hill and wait a few minutes for Kerry to join me. By the end of the week those minutes changed to seconds until I turned around and she was there on my tail! She looks very good with it, mostly dressed in purple kind of like a Miss Penelope Pitstop of the slopes.
We practised everyone of the vegetarian options, freezing the expensive meat for next weeks guests, and decided on the 'Spicy bean burger' being the best vegetarian meal in the book. Each day, however, we tentatively watched as French builders put in 30 minutes of work a day to make safe the burnt chalet.
Friday came and it was clear we were about to get our first set of guests 2 days later. The builders had constructed a pathway and cleared old mattresses, books and other burnt posessions that used to litter the entry. Our first week of guests, and on Christmas week! Quite a daunting task, until we met our guests. They were the best set of guests a host could ask for, Christmas week or not.
2 families with some convoluted ties and some great kids who were down to earth, understanding, well behaved and clean. It was a pleasure cooking and cleaning for them for the week and I personally maybe made a slight mistake and really got attached to individuals. I was devistated one night when the chicken breasts for the main took 30 minutes longer than listed, delaying the meal. The adults were insistent that the delay was fine but, having formed this relationship, I felt I had let them down and was very disappointed with the meal.
Luckily Christmas Day went beautifully. We realised we had no stuffing or brussel sprouts on Christmas Eve and after a few phone calls rustled up some stuffing mix but sprouts were apparently a lot harder to find in the alps. Luckily a chalet couple we had met in the pub were able to give us a huge bag. I sneakily kept it quiet that we had secured the sacred sprouts from my guests until later on Christmas Day when I proudly asked how they'd like their sprouts cooked, holding the bag aloft!
Christmas Day had even more pressure loaded on it. The organiser of the party was having her 50th Birthday on Christmas Day. Kerry and I used a little imagination and some engineering prowess to construct this monstrosity! It went down a storm.
Saying goodbye to our first week of guests was difficult. Not only because it was a 5:15 departure. We didn't know who we were going to get and had watched the 4 kids advance from crying before their lessons to bombing down the slopes with me and Kerry happy as larry.
Our first two weeks being seasonnaires has been good. The work is hard and sometimes stressful in the evenings, but rewarding when you see someone try a new dinner and enjoy it, or learn to ski.