Find out how to be self-employed, ski every day and conduct business from the chair lifts. It may sound too good to be true… but I did it!
So your favorite thing to do is ski, and your least favorite thing to do is go to work. And of course you are under the impression that there is no possible way to combine both and make a decent living. Sure, you can become a ski lift operator and live in a small apartment with 3 other roommates eating top ramen every night. But I have found a way to be self employed, hit the slopes by 10:00 am and conduct business from the chair lifts. I hope this doesn’t come off like bragging, I just want to let people know that there is a better life out there. Personally, I haven’t had this much fun since college.
With that being said… I bought a home near the slopes of a major ski resort in Colorado, and converted it into a bed & breakfast. It is the most entertaining job I have ever had. You basically make breakfast every morning and ski the rest of the day. Sure you need to clean rooms every few days, but guests normally don’t want anyone in their room during their stay. They just want to be pampered during breakfast, hit the slopes all day, go out to dinner, come back to their room and pass out from exhaustion. Looking at the following schedule you might say that I work 7am to 5pm everyday, with a six-hour lunch break.
Here is the average Saturday for me:
- 6:30 am – Shower, drink coffee, check emails and the weather forecast.
- 7:00 am – Start guest coffee, prepare breakfast and set the table.
- 8:00 am – Guests start coming to the breakfast table. I give them a big plate of food and make sure their orange juice and coffee never run empty. During this time we talk about skiing and the resort. They always want to know the weather forecast, if I am skiing that day, and how many times I have gone during the season. It is always an enjoyable conversation, since they are on vacation and couldn’t be happier.
- 9:00 am – I generally need to run a credit card payment for someone, or check out a movie from the library (I will discuss this later). Guests are also heading to the resort during this time, so I let them know how to get there, the best places to eat and my favorite runs. I also start doing dishes so I can hit the slopes (be sure to see “friends” in my tips section).
- 9:30 am – The last guest has eaten and I finish cleaning. But, before I head out I need to shovel snow and check the hot tub to make sure no one turned the heat down the night before.
- 10:00 am – Hit the slopes.
- 11:00 am – Normally by this time I have already received a phone reservation. People get excited when I tell them I am on the chair lift, because they know that they will be there soon enough. Guests who reach me while I am on the slopes are always more likely to make a reservation. With a cell phone I can feel the vibration of a call and store numbers for a return call later that day.
- 4:00 pm - The lifts close and I head for home.
- 4:30 pm – I make a quick walk through of the bed and breakfast to find out how much fun my guests had and check in any new arrivals. Then I return phone calls and check emails.
- 5:00 pm – By this time all my guests have made it back from the slopes, so I check out movies and make recommendations for dinner.
After that I am done for the day, with the exception of a few miscellaneous reservations. I clean rooms on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but can still make it to the slopes since I don’t have a lot of guests to tend to.
Of course there are a lot more things to think about before starting up a bed and breakfast, but these are the things that can’t be found in most of the books:
- Get a good cell phone. You need a phone that gets good reception everywhere on the mountain. Every resort has a tower, just find out which phone company owns it.
- Most people plan their vacation over the internet, so you must have an easy to find & informative website. Here is mine http://www.slopeview.com/. A lot of the things in this list can be seen in more detail on my site.
- Location is everything. Make sure people can get to the slopes easy, whether it be by shuttle bus or walking. They don’t want to drive, and you don’t want to offer transportation, because it will seriously cut into your ski day.
- You need a hot tub. If you don’t have one, you might as well sell the beds and let your guests sleep on the floor.
- Rooms have to be unique. People like interesting rooms that are unlike any room in their home. I have gone with a Five Great Things To Love About Colorado theme.
- Offer it as a vacation rental. This will allow you to take a few days off and get first tracks in the morning, or go out of town.
- Your friends are the cheapest employees you will ever have. If you have a place for them to sleep, and give them leftover breakfast, they will help you get to the slopes faster. Most of my friends that live in Denver have season passes, and I never have to shovel snow.
These are just a few recommendations, but not necessary:
- People like having their own bathroom! Not every room will have one, but they will have useless closets that you can convert.
- Set up a coffee & snack bar, and let guests make coffee whenever they want. Flavored coffee syrups and microwave popcorn are cheap, but offer a little perk for your guests.
- Everyone loves movies. I have set up DVD players in every room and have a library of 270 movies (it was a hobby before I started the b & b). You can buy used movies at video stores and ask friends to loan you theirs. Unique movies are great, because it is nice to recommend good movies that people haven’t seen.
- Waffle makers rock! If you take instant waffle mix and mix in fresh berries or nuts, you are going to have some happy customers.
People may tell you that running a bed and breakfast is hard work, but these people must think they have an obligation to clean rooms everyday and prepare a 5-course breakfast that takes hours make. I have never had a complaint, and many of my guests are repeat customers, that just like to ski. In fact I feel that the more time I spend at the resort, the better I am as a concierge.
Not only is it a good business venture, but the property around ski resorts will always go up value more so than anywhere else. You can also sell an established business for twice as much as a residential home.
So knock down the walls of your cubicle, grab your skis and prepare for a lifestyle change that will result in you becoming a bum… a ski bum.