An insight from our New General Manager Ruaridh…
As the new General Manager, my role is to ensure that every guest gets the full SVE experience and leaves Verbier having had an incredible time. I head up the Guest Relations team, working closely with all our suppliers (whom we consider to be extended SVE family) and supporting the whole SVE team. Having worked overseas for ski companies for 10 years, the hope is that I can impart some of what I’ve learned to our staff in resort. As a French speaker, I also support the company operation facilitating the day-to-day operations behind the scenes.
Talk to us about recruitment…
We had over 1000 job applications for under 50 positions this year, so we have the luxury of choosing the best of the best. Nonetheless, the first and most important job every winter, is to train the highly qualified hospitality team to become experts in the SVE way: learning the company, the resort, our chalets and of course what our guests can expect. This year, in our 31st winter, we feel strongly that this may be our best ever team, thanks to our incredible recruitment impresario Sally, and the fantastic returning staff as well.
How do you train the staff?
Our staff training is lead by a great mix of people both within the company and from external consultants: Our Resort Manager, Rachel, brings all her service standards and knowledge from working on super yachts. Our returning Head Driver, Phil, shows our new team how, where and where not to drive in the snow to keep our vans in prime condition, while I bring my coffee knowledge from running a coffee roastery and coffee shops in Brighton, and drinks knowledge from running my own cocktail bar business. Externally, we have etiquette and fine dining experts who train the team in discreet service with additional feedback from, among others, former Masterchef contestants and staff from the Royal Household. This external knowledge reinforces the message of how high our standards are to the new and returning team. Training with Ski Verbier Exclusive is not only informative, but it’s also super fun! Staff are taught everything they need to fulfil a prosperous season here in Verbier.
Initially all staff are introduced to the managers, and taught about company policy, structure and how the season works. As it’s important not only to know about the company but also the resort, the first day of training finishes off with a scavenger hunt, completing tasks around the town. After the first day, staff are then split into groups depending on their role for the winter as chefs, drivers or hosts. This is to ensure that everyone gets the best training, tailored to their role. Chefs begin their practices to show off their skills in the kitchen and learn about budgets. Drivers carry out more resort orientation getting to know how their vehicles work and where all the chalets are located. As for the hosts, they complete housekeeping training, dinner service practicals, and many other workshops which link to their duties during the season.
A lovely, talented lady named Belinda conducts sessions teaching etiquette and how to look after our guests. She tailors each session to the specific job role from demonstrating the highest standard of dinner service for the hosts to how drivers should talk to guests. After the staff have been allocated to their specific chalet, the real fun begins: the cook- offs. Chalet teams take it in turns to provide a dinner and breakfast service for their managers and peers, as practice for the real thing. This allows all staff to experience how it feels to be the guest, making it a lovely way to end a busy and informative couple of weeks.
During our training period we provide in-depth and tailored sessions for the different roles at Ski Verbier Exclusive and there are four separate training programmes for our Drivers, Chefs, Hosts and Chalet /Guest Relations Managers: all in all a lot of logistical planning to ensure that everyone understands the vital role they each hold in order to provide our guests with an unforgettable experience!
After training, our drivers transform into personal chauffeurs, ensuring that guests arrive at their ski lesson or dinner reservation safely, on time and in style. They also assist our in-house chalet teams by running errands and delivering any other bits and pieces that truly add the sparkle to our SVE Magic.
We are very lucky to have an incredibly talented team of chefs this winter. Chefs love cooking and very often don’t love the paperwork, so we keep it as interactive and practical as possible to allow them to showcase their talents. Bake-off competitions, Ready Steady Cook challenges and a canapé cook-off (in just one hour) allows us to see which chefs will be best suited to each chalet. We then have all the staff’s favourite – cook-off week! Each chef prepares several dinners and breakfasts in his or her chalet for their guests, or in this case, the SVE staff. It gives the chefs a chance to practice cooking their food in their new kitchen, the hosts a chance to practice serving and the drivers to practice driving to all their chalets. And of course, it is incredible to be treated to that level of service as one of the team.
Hosts are trained not only to keep the chalets looking spotless. They learn how to create an ambience that is right for the guest. So whether its creating the perfect playlist to have on while serving canapés or just decorating the table for a particular occasion, our hosts will go the extra mile to make sure the chalet has the just right atmosphere. And not only will they serve all your meals and canapés beautifully, they are there to help make your stay as enjoyable as it can be, whether it’s making your favourite cocktails or even arranging an Easter egg hunt for the children!
When you look at the role of a Chalet Manager and a Guest Relations Manager (GRM) there are some clear similarities and overlaps. In both roles we provide a concierge service such as arranging transfers, dinner reservations and any extra activities not already booked by your pre-arrival concierge. A Chalet Manager acts as both a concierge and a host within one chalet, with the sole focus of looking after their resident guests. GRMs take on a pod of four or five chalets, including our self-catered properties. Whilst the GRMs are not based directly in the chalet, they are in communication with our guests at all times (as much or as little as required). Whether it’s arranging a relaxing post-ski massage or making the most of the fresh powder by booking a private ski lesson, we are here to arrange it all.
What makes the Ski Verbier Exclusive Difference?
There are a number of wonderful chalets to choose from in the world, but our speciality is Verbier, the best ski resort in the world and our continued focus on hiring a largely British team with its care and attention to the small details makes an enormous difference to our guests’ enjoyment. We will know whether it’s your third time back to resort, if it’s your birthday or that you prefer oatmilk in your latte! And we also like to organise a special activity for our returning guests. The devil is in the detail, and that’s where we love to be.