working at the Whistler Blackcomb Coca Cola Tube Park

If you are looking for a first season outdoor job with the mountain, but are looking for something a little more dynamic than being a Liftie then the Tube Park could well be the place for you!

Be in no doubt this is a 100% team based work environment so if you prefer to work solo, muck around and slack off then move on now. The park’s function, guest safety and your fellow colleagues sanity rely on everyone pulling together and working as a unit through sun, rain, cold and those deep pow days where all we ALL want to be is on the mountain. Start and maintain this work ethic through the season and you’ll find this is a great place to work for your first season in Whistler!

Training typically starts around late November, doors open early December. Full on-site training is given, including cash desk and systems operations if you so wish. A basic first aid medical course is also provided and paid for by the mountain. Accidents will happen so get yourself prepared and train up. In fact I would recommend taking up the opportunity to train up on all that is offered to you.

Wages are currently set at $13 an hour, the rate for the 2018/2019 season could well be higher. Expect to work 4 days a week, averaging 30-40 hours a week. Over the season I averaged 37 hours (inc sick days & days off). Work days are long and physical, staff are in 1 to 2 hours before opening (11 am weekdays – 10 am weekends) to set up the park and 1 hour after closing (6 pm) so typically expect to work 10 hr days. The plus side, the concept of a 2 day weekend is long gone – hell yeah!

The work is physical, during set up and pack down there is a lot of lifting, pushing, pulling and of course snow shovelling etc. Just walking around up and down a hill in snow is in itself tiring. The fun factor for the customers comes naturally from the tubing of which tubes can be pulled together in groups of 4 depending on lane conditions. Expect to have to give ‘that extra push’ or ‘spin’ if the customer so desires. After one or so hours as a Starter this work is physically exhausting. I am fit and after 1-2 hours of giving the full customer experience I was dead – hungry dead hungry! Good news is that if the team is working together, breaks and rotations from station to station around the park should happen smoothly every hour or so, you will get to rest and no, no need to join a gym if you work here! I got lean fast!!

Top Tip: buy the best outdoor work boots and gloves you can afford, your toes and fingers will love you for it.

With the hard work comes the perks (core perks mentioned here). Pierre Ringuette is a great boss, put the work in, support him and your team and you’ll get your pay back. Hot chocolate, tea, coffee, oranges, apples, hand and foot warmers for days! They are just the day to day basics, if you are lucky you may well even be treated to a day of Fresh Tracks – a must Whistler experience!

Last and not least the fun factor. I’ll stick my neck out and say that the majority of the young people coming to Whistler for a ski season are not coming to work essentially. They are coming to get away from it all, have fun and shred the mountain. That’s fine, we all want that, but if your lazy hungover ass starts impacting on the day of your other most probably also tiered hungover cold colleagues then think on. Man up, battle on and help each other out. Respect your team, work as a unit and you’ll have a great time pulling moves to the Tube Park radio, throwing snow balls, creating ‘snow art’ or going for after work beers down in the village…and the best part of all…seeing customer faces light up from fear and trepidation to bursts of laughter and joy after a ripping a tube down the hill – smiles for days that skip no generation. This video and the smile on the child’s face at the end sums it up perfectly 🙂 #happydays Coco Cola Tube Park team 2017/2018 thanks guys 🙏

how to get a ski season job in Whistler

ok I am going right off the bat with this one. For the most part if you do not already live in Whistler/North America you are going to have to commit big for this trip even before leaving the comfort of your own couch. Accept that now or look elsewhere. If you are still reading let’s start to look at the ‘how’.

I am going to focus this post mostly as a hints and tips guide for those not already living in Whistler, i.e. those most in need. Hopefully this goes some way to point you in a few right directions and helps eliminate some of the minefield of questions you probably have buzzing around your head.

Let’s kick off.  You essentially have two early choices to make.

1. Working for the Mountain, Whistler Blackcomb (WB)

By working for the mountain (now owned by Vail Resorts) you will enter yourself into the volume jobs market. Lift Operations, Tube Park, Parking, Maintenance, Ski School, Snow School, Guest Services, Retail, Food and Beverage. Apply early enough and you are pretty much guaranteed a job of some kind (base rate for 2018/2019 $13/hr*), staff accommodation (2017/2018 season $12.65** a night) an Unlimited Ski Pass worth $1,289 and access to a wide range of various free or heavily discounted mountain events and activities. I can only say that working for the mountain is great for your first season! The support team at HR (The Cabin) is second to non as are the team at Staff Accommodation  at Glacier Lane. The pay is well under par, but balance that out with the subsidised staff accommodation, the unlimited lift pass, the range of events, competitions, discounted meals and activities etc. etc. it’s a win! The list is almost endless, you will get out as much as you put in so if you choose to go this route max it and get involved as much as you can.

WB jobs list: https://jobs.vailresortscareers.com/whistler/go/Whistler-Blackcomb-Jobs/3521600/

Top Tip: research all the different jobs available, think about what brings you joy, in-door or out-door and imagine doing it for 5 months straight 4-5 days a week, 35-42 hrs per week. That should help bring it down to a short list. Then apply the ‘zero f**cks’ given factor ” just get my ass here” and you’ll be down.

2. Working for a private company

The winter jobs in this catagory essentially include all things retail, food and beverage and winter sport tourism. Wages are most certainly better (+$16/hr), but you have a zero chance of getting staff accommodation, although some companies will provide you with a ski pass or at least a discounted one. Working as a server in the bars and restaurants will certainly earn you the most dollar, tips can be crazy especially for the girls, but consider why are you coming here? Is it for the money or something else. For me at least, making a wod of cash was never a focus point.

Job groups:

  1. http://www.whistler-jobs.com
  2. https://ca.indeed.com
  3. https://whistler.craigslist.ca
  4. https://www.facebook.com/groups/312798435541535/
  5. https://www.facebook.com/groups/813144602037093/

Ski pass info: https://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/plan-your-trip/lift-access/passes/unlimited-season-pass.aspx

So here comes the chicken or the egg part. How to apply for the job

You can apply to options 1 and 2 almost certainly directly. However most if not all will require a face to face interview and sorry no, video conference is still not widely accepted. If you are living in Europe or Australia for example chances are that hoping over for a quick chat is out of the question. For North America various job fairs are set up across various cities for direct face to face with WB staff which help somewhat. However the rest of you are left up shit creek without a paddle.

WB Partners Programme

The way the mountain get around not having to do face to face interviews for the hundreds of positions available across the mountain and the headache of coordinating that whole interview and accommodation process is by using agencies. Each agency or ‘partner’ typically looks after a particular area.

Top Tip: if you go down the 3rd party route apply early, I mean very early.  February, March, April latests.  These positions fill up fast!

Working Holiday Club

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The Working Holiday Club is looking after most of the high volume jobs, i.e. Lift Operations, Tube Park, Parking, Retail and Food & Beverage. Because the volume is so great the vetting process is pretty chillax here and their back end service is pretty much bare bone essentials.  A ticket in is around $2,250*.

Top Tip: Don’t be fooled by the name. Working for a 5 star resort is no holiday, do not come here with the mind set to doss around on the job. Standards are high and tolerance levels low.  The ‘holiday’ part comes from the lifestyle you can lead, being surrounded by the magic of the mountains, the abundance of terrain, epic pow days, the après (questionable vs. Europe) and the night life (pretty decent!). There is a big chunk of party life here for sure, but work is work, just like any other.

Oyster Worldwide

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Oyster’s core is essentially about taking care of the Whistler Kids ski school programme. As a result they have a more in-depth vetting processes. A package including getting your level 1 ski instructors course, one nights stay in a Vancouver hostel, transfer to Whistler, a hoodie, a group meal once a month and to be fair an excellent support network UK and local i.e. local rep Tory, should you ever need advice or additional support. Tory is in fact A1 gold, her alone is almost worth the eye watering $8,350* fee. Oyster also have other more basic job roles available including Whistler Kids kitchen staff, hotel work or new for the 2018/2019 season Tube Park, which are all available for around ca. $4,500*.

Alltracks

Alltracks offer a similar program as Oyster, but are more orientated towards the adult/older kids ski school programmes. Expect to pay in the region of $7,800*.

Full list of WB Partners: https://jobs.vailresortscareers.com/whistler/content/Whistler-Blackcomb-Hiring-Events/?locale=en_US

So there you have it. If you live outside of Whistler you essentially have to go through these agencies to work for the mountain. Aside from the guaranteed job (provided you don’t majorly screw up the telephone and face to face interviews) is the guaranteed staff accommodation at an unbeatable rate, membership straight into the mountain community and a lift pass worth $1,289*. These companies are affiliated partners of the WB-Vail cooperation, but the fact that is hard to dispute is that aside from the Working Holiday Club which offer a bare bone service, costs-in are high!

Top Tip: Try and get over the cost aspect as soon as you can, work some extra shifts, accept it and make your peace, come get on a plane and come have the time of your life!

There is always more than one way to skin a cat – another way – coming over early

Sure a ‘hop’ over could be an option (return flights around $1,200 from the EU or AU), but you would have to get your accommodation sorted first. Hotels (starting at ca. $500 a week, most at $1,000) and Airbnb is expensive, there are 3 Hostel options, but do not expect to pay the €12-22 euro a night you can get in Europe inc.breakfast. Hostel prices start at around $35-$55 a night excl.breakfast. If coming over in October/November when most of the local job fairs*** are on and paying for short-stay hostels until season starts (generally mid/late November) and hope that you get a slot in staff accommodation is not viable you could look at going for a more mid-term plan and going all out for a season in private accommodation. Rents in shared accommodation generally float around the $750-1,000+ area. However this makes no sense if you are looking for a staff accommodation job and I guess most land lords will have little interest in taking you in for 1 or 2 months (but you never know Sept-Oct is low season).

Hostels:

  1. Whistler Lodge Hostel: https://goo.gl/maps/kvecaHyjxAD2
  2. Alpine Lodge Hostel: https://goo.gl/maps/PLFQ3o19Vi82
  3. Southside Lodge Hostel: https://goo.gl/maps/tFDt1uEKeTF2

Private rentals:

  1. https://whistler.craigslist.ca
  2. https://www.piquenewsmagazine.com
  3. https://www.facebook.com/groups/680662395408425/
  4. https://www.facebook.com/groups/105948296221882/

*all prices in $CAD at the time of print (March 2018). [GBP to CAD @1.8] [CAD to GBP @0.55] [CAD to Euro @0.63] [CAD to AUD @1]

**to be updated once staff 2018/2019 accommodation rates are released

***please cross check the dates


If you have useful comments, hints and tips for newbies to Whistler please leave in the comments section below – thank you 🙂

arrival in Whistler & staff housing

After a couple days in Vancouver I joined up with my group and headed north, up the sea to sky highway, route 99 to Whistler. Looking out of the bus window and gazing up onto snow crested mountains it all started to come together. Taking it all in I found myself drifting into to thoughts of my mothers time here. The fact that she had travelled along the exact same road 43 years ago. I felt a connection, that fuzzy skin tingling kind of sensation you often get with a good movie. I felt content and full of anticipation about my arrival in what was going to be my new home. I knew then I had 100% made the right decision.

Whistler Blackcomb (WB) aka the mountain have 3 staff housing sites. Glacier, Brio and Westside. Most units are set up pretty much the same, 4 people per unit, 2 people sharing a room (bunkbeds – yey!). The units are compact and functional. It works. It’s actually ok. Key for me was to have engaging flatmates that were fun, clean, respecting and tidy. I got lucky and we all live together quite easily, happily and stress free. Sure it could be bigger, better, blah blah etc. etc., but it’s not forever, for a short time it works! Rent is $12.65 a day and is billed bi-weekly at $177.10. There is a wax room, small gym and yoga studio all on site. At 18 Below Base II (5 min walk) staff meals are also provided for $7 for a pretty decent sized feed. Combined with various planned activities WB do a great job here.

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Roomies. Day 1 photo. From left to right: Jack, me, Scott, Tom.

Some first impressions of Whistler & Blackcomb

Glacier staff housing is ski-in skit-out right onto Blackcomb mountain. For me it’s a 10 minute walk to work. To get into town there is the option of the free number 7 bus (operates 5:45 am – 2:40 am). A walk/run down the village run/staff hill ski slope (5 min) or the option to take the Excalibur Gondola (operates 8:00 am – 6:30 pm).

Best things about staff housing

  1. Your roomies (if you get good ones)
  2. The rent at only $354.20 a month (all bills included)
  3. 100% reliable hot showers with gusto…sooo good!
  4. The rooms are always warm!!

Worst things about staff housing

  1. Your roomies (if you get bad ones)
  2. No oven to cook with (makes cooking options somewhat limitted)
  3. Bunk beds (several factors here!)
  4. Will need a good deep clean when you move in
  5. Internet speed maybe slow to begin with (invest in a new router and/or call the operator)

Extra staff housing info:

  1. https://www.housewb.com/about1-c2ak
  2. https://jobs.vailresortscareers.com/whistler/content/Whistler-Blackcomb-Housing/?locale=en_US