Snow is falling around me in large, cinematic flakes. It’s 8.45 on a Tuesday morning in mid-January. I’m sitting at the top of a wide empty ski slope, ready to strap into my snowboard. Within minutes, I’m schussing down the powder-soft run, then back to the resort, ready to open my laptop and start a day of work.
This was 2014, six years before the pandemic revolutionised working-from-home across the globe. Workations were not yet part of normal office protocol. However, I managed to convince my boss to let me work from Morzine, a ski resort in the French Alps.
Over the next three years, I spent extended periods of time working remotely in France and Switzerland. Swapping the daily commute for carving down freshly-groomed pistes was not something I regret.
Fast forward to 2022 and workations are much more commonplace. 56 per cent of employees in the UK said they either planned to or have already taken a workation, according to a survey by language company Babbel.
Here are a handful of reasons why you should consider heading to a ski resort for your next work-stay adventure.
Work from a ski resort to experience crowd-free slopes
On my first workation in the Alps, I remember watching the Christmas crowds disperse, leaving the slopes blissfully quiet. One of the major perks of being a digital nomad in a ski resort is you get to enjoy off-peak skiing. January and February are often the best months for snowfall in the Alps – get ready for thigh-deep snow and minimal lift queues.
Yes, there’s work to be done during the day, but you can always squeeze in a run or two before work or over lunchtime. Also, take advantage of night skiing. Many resorts now illuminate the pistes for one night per week during the winter, allowing you to fit in extra ski time after work.
Top tip: Saturdays in French and Austrian resorts can be unexpectedly quiet, especially if they are fairly remote. This is the main changeover day for chalets; most holiday makers are in transit, leaving you with a full day-off to explore the slopes in peace.
Your skiing/snowboarding skills will dramatically improve the longer you stay
Think you’re a pretty decent skier already? Yes, you can beat your brother in a who-can-get-to-the-bar-first race, but it doesn’t mean you’re technically a good skier. However, after five months in a ski resort, you’ll see rapid progress in your technique.
During my first winter in the Alps, I could snowboard down red runs, although I was fairly wobbly when it came to flat sections and icy steeps. By the end of the season, I was comfortably heading off-piste and even attempting a few jumps in the snow park. If you are a complete beginner, an alpine workation will allow you to get beyond that exhausting learn-to-ski week and actually see consistent progress.
Increased fitness is another perk. On a week-long ski holiday, it takes a few days for your legs to not feel like overcooked spaghetti. Dedicate a month to living in the mountains and you’ll notice those quad muscles strengthen and your stamina increase. Soon you’ll be able to spend all day on the slopes without needing a full-body massage to recover.
There are dozens of like-minded people to meet at ski resorts
If you love skiing enough to spend a month in a ski resort, then you’ll no doubt meet other similarly-minded souls. Ski resorts tend to attract an international crowd, all looking for the same thing: maximum ski time.
Hitting up the local bars is one way to meet others, especially as ski resorts are known for their raucous nightlife. However, you don’t have to go boozing to meet fellow digital nomads. Fitness classes and language lessons are a great way to meet other semi-locals who might want to ski with you on weekends.
There are also plenty of events held across the Alps, aimed at bringing avid snowsports fans together – whether that’s the Mountain Film Awards, held in Verbier, Tignes and Morzine, or an end of season waterslide contest in Engelberg.
However, there are a few drawbacks to the ‘snowmad’ life.
How to beat expensive ski resort accommodation
Long-term accommodation in ski resorts is notoriously expensive and can be tricky to find. Many landlords in French resorts require you to pay the full season’s rent upfront, an enormous stretch even if you have a hefty savings account.
However, chalets and holiday rental companies are clocking on to the popularity of workations, making it easier to stay for a month or longer. Swiss Escape offers workation-friendly accommodation in Grimentz with high-speed wifi, whilst Heyday Chalet in Morzine, France has its own co-working space, bookable meeting rooms for calls, plus breakfast and dinner included.
Warning: Working from a ski resort is addictive.
As soon as I’d finished my first ski workation, I was planning the next. From making new ski-obsessed friends to snowshoeing under a full moon and dancing ‘til dawn, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had.
Lounging on a sun-drenched beach might sound appealing, but once winter rolls around, I know the mountains will be beckoning me back.
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