Work in one of Whistler’s top hotels or spas on your ski season, working hard to earn the money to make the most of the incredible skiing and snowboarding opportunities here. Whistler Blackcomb is one of the world’s most renowned resorts for its variety of terrain and its amazing powder, so you could not ask for a better place to spend your season.
Duration: Approximately 28 weeks (the whole season)
Dates: Taking bookings for 2021/22. Dates are generally early November – mid May. Some jobs may require an earlier or later start.
Arrival day: Thursday
Return day: Thursday
Eligibility: Good level of fitness required as manual work is involved
Age: 18-30 to be able to apply for the work permit
- Gaining work experience with an internationally recognised brand – will look great on your CV!
- Comprehensive support & advice you’ll receive, particularly during our orientation, which includes a ZipTrek tour
- ‘Work hard, play hard’ – enjoying a unique experience with like-minded people from around the world
- Experience local life in one of the world’s best and most popular ski resorts, regularly voted #1 in North America
*We are no longer able to accept applications for 2021/22 winter season until further notice. For more information on applications and Covid-19 details please see here, and keep an eye out for updates on our Covid statement*
Oyster has been working with hotels in Whistler since 2006. Since then, we have arranged work for our hardworking and enthusiastic participants in hotels such as the Fairmont, Delta and Westin – all top hotels in the resort. We also work with Scandinave Spa in Whistler.
Whilst the exact role cannot be confirmed until nearer departure, you should expect to work in the hotel housekeeping or food and beverage department. If you are working at the Spa, the jobs will either be looking after the day to day running of the spa (stocking towels, keeping the areas clean and tidy) or the working front of house on the reception desk.
The jobs are full time and you can expect an average of 4-5 days work per week across the ski season. Working in a tourist resort means that hours vary with season, snow conditions and guest numbers. On average, you’ll get 2 days off per week to ski or snowboard. During peak times, such as Christmas, you may be working 6 or even 7 days per week. In the quieter times, you may only get 2-3 days work per week. Each pay cheque will be different so there will be times you need to live on a budget.
Expect to earn a minimum of C$13 per hour (approx £7 per hour) and be paid fortnightly. Some jobs pay up to C$16 per hour.
Standards of service are extremely high in Canada. You will need to be punctual, turn up to work in the correct uniform, look smart, be genuinely friendly and courteous to guests.
If you have worked in a hotel before then do tell us on booking form as this may help us find a job for you in other hotel departments, although this cannot be guaranteed.
We ask for a £180 payment when booking this programme. If, in the event you are unsuccessful in the interview, or we cannot find a job for you before you leave home, the money that you pay Oyster is fully refundable.
- You will live in accommodation organised by your employer. This will either be within the hotel complex or in rented accommodation in the village/surrounding area
- You should expect to share a room with at least one other person and to share kitchen facilities
- Rent is deducted directly from your pay cheque at the rate of between $12-$20 per night, depending on the employer. This is usually the equivalent of an hours’ pay per night
- Your accommodation is self-catered so you should ensure you can cook a few easy dishes before you arrive in Canada
- Depending on the employer, you may get a free or discounted meal on your shifts
- Whistler is a foodies paradise offering cuisine options from around the world
Airport: Vancouver (YVR)
Arrival day: Usually a Thursday – this will be confirmed before you book your flights
Transfer details: Assuming you arrive with the rest of the group, we will transfer you to a hostel in Vancouver for the first night. The next morning, Tory shows you where you can register for your Social Insurance Number before you hop on the coach and head up the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) to Whistler. The journey takes about two and a half hours. On arrival, we’ll get you checked in and give you time to settle into your accommodation before beginning our thorough orientation.
Departure day: Usually a Thursday. If you are flying home on our end date, the airport transfer is included. If you are returning on a different date you will need to organise your own transport
As an ATOL bonded company we can book flights for you from the UK or elsewhere. If you are flying with the group from London, we will see you off at Heathrow on departure day. On arrival, our rep Tory will pick you up at Vancouver Airport and transport you into the city.
If you want to arrange your own flights to Vancouver, that’s fine too. If you arrive at the same time as the rest of the group, the airport transfer will be included, otherwise you will just need to make your own way to the hostel for the first night.
Dual-national Tory (she is British and Canadian) took her gap year in Tremblant, went back to the UK to complete her degree and returned to Whistler to become a ski instructor. She is married to Mike, one of Whistler’s most respected ski instructors, and they have two young children. Tory’s full time job is as the Senior Manager at Whistler.com. She has been our representative since we began and knows what she’s talking about, having done it herself!
On arrival, Tory will arrange a short orientation course and be in close contact with you over the first couple of days. As time goes on, Tory will take more a back seat and be there as a helpful friend should you need any help or advice. Once a month Tory hosts a meet up with the Oyster group where we provide a few drinks and snacks which provides the chance to chat through any issues you might have. Tory is a local expert on where to go and what to see in the area.
Our representatives are there to be a helpful friend to you and steer you through difficulties of any kind. Tory will keep us updated on your health and welfare throughout.
Read more about Tory in our ‘meet the reps‘ blog.
- Access to your own personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the program and manage your booking
- Dedicated contact time with an experienced destination manager to discuss the project, answer any of your questions and for us to find out more about you
- Help and advice from our UK office before arrival and whilst you are away
- In-country support
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and project advice
- Financial protection: ATOL (if we book your flights); IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
- Thorough orientation on arrival
- Accommodation (see the ‘accommodation’ section above for details)
- Advice on visa requirements
- Oyster plants a tree in Africa with TreeAid to help reduce the impact of global carbon emissions
- UK briefing day covering hotel issues and work advice
- Oyster will guarantee to find you a job
- Organisation of staff accommodation before arrival (nightly cost of approx $11 per night taken directly from pay cheque, which is roughly £50 per week)
- Discounted ski pass through your employer
- Optional flight with fixed return date. Total cost including flight £2495 (if you want a more flexible ticket this can be organised).
- Your money is protected with Oyster. We have ATOL Protection (as long as we book your flights) and a bond with IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
- Arrangement of transportation to your accommodation from the airport and local information
- One night in a central Vancouver hostel when the group arrives in Canada
- Assistance organising your Social Insurance Number and bank account (with TD Bank in Whistler)
- Assistance and support from our representative throughout the season, including regular social ‘meet ups’
- Wages paid fortnightly (approx. £220 per week, before tips)
- In-resort discount on buying skis and boots when you first arrive in Whistler
- ZipTrek session during the orientation
- Bus ticket back to Vancouver on the programme end date
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
- Flights – as an ATOL bonded company, Oyster can book flights for you
- You need a valid passport that meets the requirements of the country you will be travelling to
- Insurance (covering your time with Oyster and any planned independent travel)
- Any costs associated with changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Home country travel costs
- Spending money for additional trips, food and entertainment
- Be eligible for the Canadian IEC Working Holiday Program (sign up for our free application guide)
- Accommodation and food costs, approximately C$18 (£11) per day. Accommodation cost is taken directly from your pay cheque
- Police check for immigration purposes (approx. £55)
- Cost of IEC Working Holiday Work Permit and biometrics fee – C$338
“Whenever I visit Whistler, I enjoy hearing the stories from our participants and the great feedback from management. We’re proud of the fact that employers in Whistler choose to work with us we’ll continue sending well selected and prepared participants every year.” Says Jon.
Working in a hotel or spa is tough. The hours can be long and in most jobs, you’ll be on your feet all day. Most of our participants work in housekeeping and this is a job with relatively social hours. You can only start cleaning someone’s room when it has been vacated! Typically, expect to work 8am -4pm in hotels. The spa runs on two shifts, an opening shift which starts at 7am and a closing shift which starts at 1.30pm.
We have had people work in the food and beverage departments and with these jobs, you could work at any time of the day (or even night!).
When the snow is there! You will arrive at the start of the winter season at the end of November and then work until the end of the season in May
If you are considering a career in the hospitality industry, working in a hotel or spa in Whistler will give you a great opportunity to get behind the scenes in an entry level job and see how these busy places keep running.
Working in Canada for a season is a great use of your gap year or career break. Not only will it enhance your CV – Canada is recognised as being a country with extremely high levels of customer service – but it will also enhance your independence and confidence.
The winter in Whistler is perfect for a ski season. Temperatures remain below 0 for the majority of the season meaning fantastic snow. Even when the village warms up, temperatures as low as -20 are not uncommon mid-winter on the mountain
It can take up to 6 weeks before your first pay cheque arrives so you will need to arrive in Canada with enough money to feed and entertain yourself. We would suggest having a minimum of £1000 available, plus extra if you are buying skis/boots. Once you start earning money, you should be able to live on the money you earn day to day. You might want savings in place to cover any extra trips or outings that you want to do.
You will be able to set up a Canadian bank account with the help of our local representative, which you will be able to get a card for. Credit cards are advised for emergencies, as well as enough cash to see you through the first few days, there are ATM’s in the village
Included in this programme is a ZipTrek tour. This takes place during your orientation weekend in Whistler and is a great way to get to know Whistler, the local habitat and your fellow Oysters!
The tour takes about 3 hours to complete, it takes in 5 ziplines crossing over the Fitzsimmons Creek (between Whistler and Blackcomb). This is an exhilarating adreline rush adventure but also teaches you a lot about the local environment you will call home for the next 5 months.
Check out this video from ZipTrek.
You will need to apply for a Canadian IEC Working Holiday permit before you go. To be able to qualify for the working holiday visa, you must be between the ages of 18 and 30, and hold a passport from one of the eligible countries stated by the Canadian Embassy: Australia, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea Rep, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom. This costs C$250 approximately (£125).
You will also need a Police Check for immigration purposes and this costs approximately £45.
We will help with this once you have booked a place on the programme.
You will need to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months after your return date (any less may be possible but can cause delays at immigration).
Most people book with Oyster on their own and travel with the rest of the group. The group meets at a UK briefing course before you go to Canada. You will be able to travel with a friend if you wish
You should visit your doctor or travel nurse to find out what vaccinations you will need. It is likely that only your routine vaccinations will need to be up to date.
There is a hospital and multiple pharmacies located in Whistler village
Working in the resort is a safe job, although you should always follow advice given to you by your employers. Whistler is a very safe village but it is always advised to keep valuables secure and stick together when you first arrive
Most jobs are located in Whistler Village. If you are working in a hotel, everywhere will be within walking distance.
If you are working at the Scandinave Spa, this is a little further out of the village but on the main bus route (the bus stop is a 10 minute walk from the Spa).
Some of the hotels we work with have accommodation within their complex for staff. Others use the Whistler Blackcomb housing on Blackcomb Mountain. With either option, you’ll be close to the action! Expect to share a room and be self catering.
The cost of the accommodation comes directly off of your pay cheque and equates to approximately an hour of pay per day.
For those working at the Spa, various accommodation options are available. You could be living onsite or close to the village.
Your accommodation is self catering so, for the majority of time, you will be cooking for yourself. This is far cheaper than eating out every night! There are supermarkets in the village where you can stock up. You may be entitled to a free, or discounted, meal whilst you are working. This will depend on the employer. If you are feeling flush, or it’s a special occasion, there are plenty of places in Whistler to eat out with something for every appetite. Expect to pay C$13-20 for a main meal.
There are internet cafes in the village although most participants utilise the wireless internet in their accommodation. This costs $20 per month but there are ways of getting this cheaper. NB: If you are keen to take a laptop with you, you should be aware that most insurance companies will not insure it.
You should take an ‘unlocked’ mobile phone with you to Canada (or you can buy a cheap Canadian one) and purchase a local ‘pay as you go’ SIM card. This is useful for contacting the representative and the rest of the group as local calls are very cheap. You can buy international phone cards to call the UK for $10+tax from any supermarket/phone shop this will give you hundreds of minutes to use any way you like, including calling the UK.
Whistler is in the West of Canada, on Pacific Standard Time and is 8 hours behind GMT (GMT -8)
Canada, like the US, operates on 110V, 60 cycle electric power. You should bring an adapter with you that has a two pronged (flat) plug.
Most people use their days off to take advantage of their free ski pass and hit the slopes. There is plenty to do in Whistler besides skiing and snowboarding. ZipTrek is an educational tour of Whistler’s coastal temperate rainforest that lasts for approximately 3 hours. You learn you all about sustainability and conservation as well as ‘zip lining’ along a number of wires that cross the Fitzsimmons Creek. This is an exhilarating thrill, hurtling across the rainforest at tremendous speeds! Further afield, Vancouver is 2 hours bus ride from Whistler and you can head there to shop or to watch an ice hockey match. There are usually good discounts available for staff, and sometimes free, coaches to Vancouver.
Working in a ski resort means that the hours you work are dictated by the weather and the number of tourists that are on holiday there.
You will get to know our representative well in the first few days as they help you settle into life in Canada. You will go through an induction that involves a tour of the resort, assistance with setting up Social Insurance Numbers, bank accounts and mobile phones. You will also be introduced to your employer.
Once you start work, the representative takes more of a back seat role but is there as a helpful friend should you need assistance. Once a month, they will run a meet up with you and the rest of the group. Day to day, you will be under the supervision of your manager and supervisor at work.
Staff at Oyster’s head office and in-country will be responsible for your safety and welfare while you are on our programme. This will start from the moment you are picked up from the airport until the end date of the programme, when you will make your own way back to the airport. If you are arranging your own flights and arriving earlier or later than the rest of the group on arrival day, you will be responsible for getting yourself to the hostel in Vancouver where you will meet the rest of the group.
Before and after the Oyster programme, you will be outside Oyster’s responsibility and should make sure that you act safely and avoid risk. This is also true if you choose to get involved in activities during your time off. We will give you plenty of guidance and advice about this.
Although we are keen to send as many participants as possible this winter, the pandemic has of course brought some uncertainty as to how travel will unfold over the next couple of months.
Here at Oyster, we prioritise managing expectations alongside providing life changing experiences. As things currently stand, it is still unclear as to whether the 20 / 21 ski season will be fully “back to normal”, and it is unknown as to quite how quickly tourism will recover. As the vaccine programmes unfold and clarity resumes on international travel, decisions will be made regarding the staffing levels required on the ski slopes.
We’re very hopeful that we will be about to place all applicants, however, we are not able to guarantee a job role at this moment in time. Instead, we are inviting you to join our waiting list to be considered top priority for the roles in Canada when they become available. By completing an application form and deposit, we’ll still be able to get the ball rolling by providing you with all the assistance you need in familiarising yourself with the programme, obtaining your work permit and understanding the job role provided. This is so that you will be 100% ready to go when the time comes.
We are committed to providing Oyster participants with an amazing experience, wherever that may be. For this reason, we are asking participants to consider a preference list of programmes should we not be able to deliver on your first choice. If for any Covid-related reason your first choice cannot go ahead, we will endeavour to place you in one of your back up choices. Please see the list of alternative ski season options below:
Alternatively, we could offer you any other fantastic Oyster project and your deposit will be transferred. Popular options that skiers have taken in the past include:
- Sports coaching in South Africa
- Paid work in Outback Australia
- Horsemanship course and paid work in Australia
We look forward to providing you with an exciting gap year experience so please get in contact if you have any questions with regard to these programmes.
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