scorecardI work at a ski resort in Vail. The lifestyle is tough to beat.
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I work at a ski resort in Vail. The lifestyle is tough to beat.

Ana Altchek   

I work at a ski resort in Vail. The lifestyle is tough to beat.
Careers4 min read
  • 26-year-old Berklee Ryann moved to Vail, Colorado four years ago to work at a resort.
  • During peak tourist seasons, Ryann bartends about 12 to 16-hour days four or five days a week.

Up until a few years ago, I spent my whole life in Wisconsin. I was born there, raised there, and went to school there.

When Covid hit, I moved back home again from college. Once the pandemic ended, I wanted to go anywhere that wasn't where I grew up.

So I decided to move to a ski town in Colorado and get a job at a resort. It's been four years since then, and I have no plans to come back.

The lifestyle drew me in

I never went skiing or snowboarding before moving to Vail, Colorado, but I liked the idea of moving somewhere completely new. My mom is a travel nurse so the idea of relocating wasn't a foreign concept.

As a new employee in the area, the resort offered me discounted housing. This is common for ski resorts to do since housing is expensive and often hard to find in the area.

For my first couple of years, I lived with three roommates in a dorm-like unit for about $565 per month. It wasn't the nicest apartment, but I was right on the mountain. The ski town has a Swiss Alps kind of feel to it and every day felt like I was transported to a European ski getaway.

Everything outside is green and I could see the ski lifts running from my window. It's pretty cool to be so close to nature and all the outdoor activities.

Plus, the setup helped me make instant friends. While some of my roommates ended up leaving after a season or two, I'm still friends with some of the people I met that first year in employee housing.

Now, I'm roommates with three friends I met at different jobs, and we live in a house outside the resort.

I travel three or four months a year and get to ski in my free time

During peak seasons at the resort, I work as a bartender about five days out of the week in a restaurant at Beaver Creek.

Twice a week I work between nine and 11 hours, and three days a week I work a double shift that's 14 hours. Sometimes, I pick up extra shifts on the weekend if it's especially busy. But I don't usually expect to work six or seven days a week.

Once tourism slows down in the fall and spring, I take a month or two off in each season to travel. I usually go home for a month to visit my family and then go elsewhere. I've traveled abroad to Paris, Amsterdam, Spain, Italy, and Portugal.

I also go on road trips in the US, oftentimes with my coworkers. I've driven to New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Two springs ago I went to San Diego and drove up the coast to Big Sur.

I'm currently planning a trip back to Barcelona this spring.

On the days that I don't work, I usually go out to the mountain and ski or snowboard. I can almost always find someone to go with me, and if not, I run into friends there. I try and do chores in my free time too, but I like to ski as much as possible.

There are downsides to living on a mountain

I wouldn't trade my current lifestyle for anything else, but there are certain aspects to living in a ski town that make life a little more complicated.

For starters, housing is expensive. I live in a house 20 minutes from the mountain with three roommates and pay a little over $1,330 per month.

Overall access to anything outside the resort is difficult. Denver is the closest city and that's a two-hour drive. In winter conditions, that's not an easy commute.

Sometimes, it can be hard to find basic produce at the grocery store because it's difficult to import items up the mountain.

I also have to stay the entirety of my double shifts because it takes so long to get down the mountain. Normally at a restaurant, staff gets cut as the night winds down. But since the ski lift doesn't run at night, we have to wait to take the ski cat down together.

I have no plans to leave

I sometimes toy with the idea of trying something new and moving somewhere else. But I wouldn't leave unless I came up with a better plan than this.

It's hard to give up the lifestyle of making a lot of money in a really short time and then having months off every year.

I also love being able to meet all kinds of people, whether it's staff or guests at the resort. A couple of my jobs have been at private membership clubs, which is cool because I can talk to people with so much more life experience than me, and who have done things that are vastly different than what I'm doing now.

The culture and the community with the staff at ski resorts are some more reasons I stay. Anytime I walk into a local pub or eatery, I see people I know. Everyone is friends and while there's a lot of young people, there are also life-timers who live here permanently.

I don't plan farther than six months in advance, and right now, I'm happy here.




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