A day in the life: Paddy Payne

A day in the life: Paddy Payne

Lee Hayhurst meets the ‘Paddy power’ behind Neilson’s ski offering in Les Deux Alpes, France.

My day starts…
About 8am if it’s after transfer day. I introduce guests to their instructors and get them off to ski school. After that, I have accounts to do because people will have bought lift passes and so on during the transfer the previous day, so I need to make sure they’re in order.

I’ve been in my job for…
I did my first season for Neilson eight years ago in Salcedo, Italy. I used to work for an insurance broker in London before the recession hit. I got my redundancy in the October, packed my bags and I was in Italy in November.

I became a rep because…
I got to know Neilson through a friend who had been on a holiday with them. The interview process was in Brighton. The only customer experience I had was over the phone, but they wanted to make sure you had a bubbly personality, and that you would be good dealing with customers. When we arrived in Italy, they gave us all a ski test, so they could tell who the stronger skiers were to work as guides.

My daily duties involve…
We’ve got two Mountain Collection hotels and three chalets, so it’s a question of going around the properties and making sure the chalet hosts and hotel managers have everything they need. After getting the guests off to ski school in the morning, I might do some paperwork. After that, I might head up the mountain to ski – as long as I’ve got everything done – before afternoon tea at 4pm.

The most rewarding part of my 
job is…
Apart from the fact that we get to go up the mountain every day for an 18 or 19 week season, the big reward is customer satisfaction – to know that people have enjoyed themselves. We get a lot of letters from customers pointing out really good staff members and praising them for their hard work.

And the most challenging part is…
Transfer days are long, typically 12 to 14 hours. We’ve had some weeks when we’ve worked 20-hour days. It’s part and parcel of the job.

My favourite destination is…
Salcedo.

I am most commonly asked…
When are you going to get a proper job?

The worst thing that’s happened at work is…
We’ve had a few avalanches. The panic button is pressed and we have to get in touch with all our staff and guests to make sure they’re OK.

In the evening I…
Head round all the properties and chat to guests to see how their first day has been, make sure people are settled in and there are no major issues. We offer a few après-ski programmes, but generally I’ll finish about 8pm-9pm and then have a few drinks with the team. Towards the end of the week, we’ll start preparing for the next set of guests, ordering all the food for the chalets and hotels.

To relax I like to…
Ski – and have a few beers with the guys.

What one thing would you take to a desert island…
Sun cream. I burn so badly it would have to be factor 100.

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