What’s it like to work for Vail Resorts (2018)

[Around this time of year, my site gets a lot of search traffic from people who are considering working for Vail Resorts at either Vail or another ski resort in Colorado. November and December are when Colorado’s ski resorts staff up for seasonal work. Thousands of temporary workers flow in for a taste of “the good life”, skiing every day, drinking every night, and working every minute in between. 

The ski town content that people tend to find via Google is a few years old, so I asked a friend to contribute something a bit more up-to-date. Rachel worked at Keystone for the final six weeks of the 2017-2018 season. Here is her advice about working for Vail, living in the mountains, and which Colorado ski resort you should choose.

You can find Rachel on Instagram at @rv_warner.]

The snow arrived early this year and gave some mountains a head start on the 2018/2019 ski season, but don’t worry, you haven’t missed out on your chance to spend a winter in the Colorado Rockies. If you aren’t receiving the same daily emails from Vail about their “talent acquisitions” that I am, listen up, Vail Resorts is hiring. I speculate Vail is always hiring, maybe not in the exact job you had in mind, but if you don’t completely suck I bet you can find a job. If you have already looked into working for them but are on the fence, let me encourage you to take the plunge.

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Should You Work For Vail Resorts?

Vail's Blue Sky Basin

Or: Why I Worked for Vail (and Why You Should Work For Vail Resorts Too)

guest contribution from a ski town friend. They wanted to remain anonymous. But for those of you considering a season as a ski bum, with Vail Resorts in Vail or elsewhere, I hope the perspective’s helpful!

Although there seems to be a lack of snow nationwide, the 2016-2017 Ski season is about to kick off. Some resorts, such as Arapahoe Basin, are unbelievably already in full swing. People, just like you and me, from all over the world are therefore looking for ways to get their very own taste of some champagne powder – without paying $1000 for a season pass. Or maybe you’re like I was and have never skied or boarded before but are ready to give it your best shot. Either way, there’s an alternative to buying a pass.

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A Day in the Life

[ed. note: ski town content is finally resuming, courtesy of a friend in Vail. He’s a great writer and a better ski bum than I. His writing will run alongside my travel content as we move towards a more diverse magazine. Hope you all are enjoying your winters!]

Wham!  A slap of the snooze button and a groan, I’m awake at 5am.  Time to video chat with the now ex-girlfriend in Bulgaria, it’s already 2pm there.  After a shower and a quick breakfast I’m out the door by 6, just enough time to walk to work for my 6:15 shift.

I breath in the crisp Rocky Mountain air and start walking through 6 inches of fresh snow, thinking to myself – ‘Damn, too bad I’m not cruising this fresh powder instead of serving breakfast to tourists. . .’

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Soon after I get to work I devise a plan to get out early. Sure enough, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Working fast and talking faster, I’m out the door by 8.  Smell ya later, it’s time for some much needed snowboarding.  I’m heading back home and a friend, let’s call him T, excitedly calls me and asks if I’m going to shred the gnar.  Fuck ya.  Back home by 8:30.  A quick snack and the addition of some very warm socks later and it’s time to head to the village.  We meet up at Gondola One and by the looks of things, we’re among the first skiers on the mountain.  Hells Yes.

Excitement builds as we are comfortably lifted up the mountain in the padded and heated gondola.  Gloves, goggles, face mask, powder skirt and a pounding heart.  The trees are laden with fresh snow, and in some places, ice; a real winter wonderland.  The doors open, we strap in and off we go.  Cruising thick stacks of fresh snow, running my fingers through it as I’m rocketing down the mountain parallel to the ground.  I catch air and boom! A shot of cold champagne powder slams into my face, nearly choking me. In the ski world this is called a face shot.  In this town if you’re not taking fresh snow to the dome, it’s not a powder day.

If you’ve ever surfed before, riding fresh powder is very similar, however, I ironically think that snowboarding is much more fluid.  The waves are moving and pushing beneath you, exerting their force on you, but with snowboarding everything just flows.  It doesn’t matter how you move your board, it’s like sliding down whipped cream.  And the best part is that wiping out is fun.  Ever jumped into a pile of waist deep snow?  Might as well be falling onto a pile of feathers.  These are the days when you drop cliffs and try crazy tricks.

The deep snow also has a very surreal calming effect.  Sound is dampened and being surrounded by an entire world of white allows you to drift into a totally different plane of reality.  It’s just you, the mountain, and your board.  In some ways snowboarding has been one of the most spiritual experiences of my life (the exception, by far, being DMT).

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T and I meet up at the bottom of the lift, giant, stupid grins spread across our faces.  A fist bump later and we’re traveling up the mountain again, this time on an open chair lift, cold air on our faces, shouting playful encouragement at the skiers below us.  T looks over at me; ‘safety meeting?’  ‘You know it.’  We cruise into the trees, find a nice smoke shack to post up in and spark a bowl.  Taking full advantage of legal marijuana has been one of my favorite parts about living in Colorado.  At times I smoke too much – Ha!  But blazing up on the mountain (among other things) is always recommended.  I always feel a bit more connected to my board and the mountain after inhaling a bit of ganja and usually end up pushing myself just because I’ll get into sketchier situations, say ‘fuck it, let’s do this’ and flow through them.

T and I do a few more runs, zipping through the trees and traversing most of the front side of the mountain.  But soon enough, the munchies kick in and it’s time for the classic chicken & bean burrito at La Cantina, a very ski bum budget friendly Mexican bar not far from the slopes.

Then it’s time for the 10 minute walk home, a game of zombies with the roommate and a freshly cooked meal before getting ready to wake up and do it all over again.

 

This is my life.

I’m very excited to share it with you.  Stories of adventure, drugs, danger, love and life decisions.  Battles with depression and coming of age.  The joys and turmoils of a fast paced life.  The behind the scenes of what it really means to be a ski bum.  Of letting go and allowing life to take you where you need to go – whether it’s dropping out of college to follow your dreams or opening your heart to another human being.

I live, work and play in the resort town of Vail, Colorado, where everything revolves around the snow.  Whether it’s good or bad drastically affects the tourism business and can mean the difference between a lucrative season or going out of business.  For example, I-70 – the interstate that connects Vail to the rest of the world – causes millions of dollars in losses every time it is shut down.  That being said, living in a resort town allows you to make amazing money with very little experience; really, only the skill of being able to talk to people is required.  It also means 5 star meals and fresh seafood in the middle of the Rockies.  And, working for the company Vail Resorts means that you have the opportunity to snowboard 7 days a week for FREE.  Really can’t beat that.  Stay tuned.

 

– C

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Like it, love it, hate it? Tell me what to write about next in the comments below.

Living in a Ski Town as a Digital Nomad

Fresh groomers Vail Chair 4

When I graduated college, I was already employed in my field. I was working remote, freelancing for a news startup called Inside.com. I was being paid peanuts: a contract rate that effectively worked out to well below minimum wage. I told the hordes of well-wishers at my graduation party that it wasn’t really a “real job,” just something to pay the bills and build the resume. I was looking. Fifteen months, several raises and rounds of layoffs later, I still work for Inside. At the time, I definitely didn’t realize how lucky I was. Although Inside has never paid me too much, they do allow me unlimited flexibility, a perk which absolutely cannot be overvalued.

So, with a remote job in my pocket, I uprooted and moved to Vail, Colorado.

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Moments in Time

Vail International Dance Festival 2015

Vail International Dance Festival 2015

A year is a long time, when looking to the future; in retrospect, a year is almost unbearably short.

My life, one year ago.

One year ago.

I have now lived in Vail for one full year of my life. My 22nd year on Earth, I spent in Vail. My 23rd, I will spend in Asia. I hope it will be better.

Although on August 1, I knew a year had passed, the length of time somehow didn’t hit me until I attended the 2015 Vail International Dance Festival.

Watching the 2014 VIDF was one of the very first things my girlfriend and I did after moving to Vail. To return to the same spot, for the same activity, with a year between, really forced me to reflect on my year in a ski town.

Inside Vail Gondola One

The Vail International Dance Festival is an annual, two-week long celebration of classical and modern dance. Programming showcases everything from traditional ballet to YouTube sensations to newer, more urban styles of dance. There’s dancing in the streets, in the air; during these two weeks you might even catch some better-than-usual dancing in Vail’s limited number of bars. Where else can you take shots with world-famous ballerinas and dancers and not even know it?

Only Vail.

That’s the thing— you might be able to brush elbows with those sorts of people in certain neighborhoods of New York City, or LA, or London, but you would know it. People who live in the hip neighborhoods know why they are there, and they know the pedigree that surrounds them.

Young people in Vail are almost completely ignorant of this pedigree.

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