Panorama Mountain Resort Case Study - What it's like working at Panorama
Meet BUNAC'er Charlotte Hurrell. In November 2016, Charlotte flew to Vancouver to begin a new adventure, working a ski season at Panorama Mountain Resort on our Work Canada Ultimate program. She had the absolute time of her life. Read her experience of what it's like to work at Panorama, including her day-to-day duties, time off adventures, and top advice for people looking to work at Panorama in the future.
First things first - why did you want to travel to good ol' Canada?
I love to travel and had wanted to go to Canada for as long as I can remember. After taking a short career break in 2015, for Summer Camp in America, I decided I wanted to get a working holiday visa. I did some research on the BUNAC website and found out about the IEC visa. Two years in Canada, my first real winter season and a job at a ski resort - I was sold!
Why did you choose to work in Panorama? What made it jump out to you out of the other resorts?
Panorama really appealed to me because it was a more intimate resort in the heart of the mountains. I researched the resort and the first thing I saw on the website was their slogan 'Panorama, pure Canada'. I also looked up some previous staff interviews. I didn't see one bad review and I really enjoyed reading about other people's experience there. I knew this was where I wanted to spend my winter season!
What was your job at Panorama? Describe your typical day.
I worked as part of the Housekeeping team as a Quality Control Attendant (QC). I was responsible for checking rooms after they had been cleaned to ensure that they were perfect and ready for the guest. Every morning the team would meet in the housekeeping office at 9am and receive updates from the supervisors. As a QC my days were often varied; if all the checks were up to date, I helped room attendants clear rooms, start a departure clean, touch up rooms after maintenance or dust down! No two days were the same. During the busy periods we worked long hours and our days were pretty tiring, but we made up for this by finishing early on the quieter days and making the most of the fresh snow powder!
What activities, traveling and socializing did you get up to on your days off? Were there opportunities to use the facilities at the resort?
I always spent a least one of my days off skiing and enjoying the resort. A group of us would take the last morning bus up the mountain and hit the slopes, have lunch and enjoy a soak in the hot pools. This routine NEVER got old and I always looked forward to getting back out there! I lived in town so I loved exploring and checking out local events or catching a ride with others heading out of town for the day. A group of us from Housekeeping also arranged a weekly dinner and movie/game night. There was always something being planned amongst the Pano staff so days off were never boring.
What's the accommodation like?
I didn't stay in staff accommodation but for those who did, it was a dorm style living. I rented a private room in the local town, Invermere, through another staff member at Panorama. This was definitely more suited to me as I loved making the most of my days off and having my own room to head back to. Most rentals were situated in great locations with easy access to shops, cafes and bars and most importantly the bus stops that took you up to the resort.
Can you tell us about a specific moment that made you laugh until you cry? (We know it was probably a had-to-be-there moment, but still.)
There are so many honestly! The one I always think of first was from our staff Christmas party. It was 90's themed and me and two of my housekeeping buddies wanted a 'decent' photo together in our 90's costumes. I gave my phone to our chosen camera man and we all posed nicely for a looong time. He kept telling us to hold still, and unbeknownst to us all he took was a bunch of selfies and a video of us three looking like 90's mannequins! When we realized we burst out laughing and thankfully he caught that exact moment on camera.
What were the customers like who came to the resort?
Customers at the resort came from far and wide. We had lots of Canadians and Americans on vacation, ski racers for training and events, local schools and schools from the states and UK. We even had guests from as far as Australia visit for a ski holiday! The customers were a complete mix and I loved getting to meet people from all over the world. Panorama also offers a great program for adapted skiers which is fantastic and I found this very inspiring.
What skills have you learnt or developed at Panorama that you’ll be able to use in a future career path or job?
As part of my job at Panorama I had to write feedback forms for every room I checked that wasn't 'perfect'. These forms were then given to the Room Attendants. I sometimes found this difficult as my colleagues were also friends. Over the course of the season, I learnt to focus on how well each room had been cleaned and not at the person cleaning the room. I realized It was important to let the RA's know what areas they needed to improve in and using my feedback they would eventually get their perfect room bonus.
Would you say you’ve grown as a person since working at Panorama, and if so, how?
Panorama has definitely helped me grow as a person. I used to be quiet and lacked confidence and, at 28, I worried I'd be the oldest one in housekeeping and if I'd struggle to connect with people. As soon as I started work, I was able to adapt to new situations much easier than I thought. Being surrounded by a great bunch of like-minded people, of all ages, has taught me to stop taking life so seriously and to stop over thinking every decision. It's given me a new outlook on life. Instead of worrying about where I'll end up next or not having an exact plan, I'm excited for the future!
What did you find most a) rewarding and b) fun about working at Panorama?
a) Rewarding: The most rewarding part of working at Panorama was being a part of the Housekeeping team. I'm used to being in a customer facing role but this time I was behind the scenes. The job was physically demanding especially during the peak periods but our team really was amazing. It was great that the feedback from our manager was so positive - we were even smashing records from previous years!
b) Fun: Staff events really made the season so fun. There were lots of staff appreciation events including a Christmas party, free breakfast morning, movies nights in the great hall and many more. For all those living in town, we set up a Facebook group so there was always something going on. My favorite has to be the end of season bonfire by the lake. A group of us all sat round by the fire, watching the sunset and toasting s’mores. A simple, cheap and fun night for all!
The classic words of wisdom question, but it’s important! What words of advice would you give to someone who was thinking about working in Canada?
Be open minded and willing to step out of your comfort zone to try new things. Also, don't be disappointed if you don't get your first-choice job. I originally applied for customer service and admin jobs. When I was offered the job at Panorama in housekeeping, I had mixed feelings to begin with. I reminded myself that the whole point of this experience was to get away from the routine of my 9 - 5 desk job and try something totally different!
And finally, give us a classic travel quote that completely sums up your experience of Panorama!
I recently read the quote 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step'. This completely sums up my Canadian experience so far and my time working at Panorama.
Has Charlotte's experience convinced YOU to work a wonderful ski season at Panorama Mountain resort this year? Check out our Work Canada Ultimate program to learn more!