Meet sam dredge – CO-OWNER OF MORE MOUNTAIN CHALETS
JOB TITLE: Co-owner of More Mountain chalet company
HOURS: 60+ hours per week
PAY: Enough to support a family of three in the mountains!
PERKS: Being in the mountains 24/7, riding everyday and meeting really great people
DOWNSIDE: Never getting a holiday, working your arse off most of the time
It was a no-going-back moment for Sam and Jon when they quit their high-flying careers in Manchester and set off on a year-long shred trip. Since 2006, they’ve run More Mountain, a luxury snowboard-specific chalet company in Morzine. With up to 140 guests per week requiring freshly-made beds, lift passes, kit and bacon sandwiches, they’ve got their work cut out for them. But how did they get there?
So, what made you leave your jobs in Manchester and move the mountains?
John and I have been together since we were 16. We’d done the whole university and getting a proper job thing, but we’d never taken a break. After 12 years working corporate jobs in Manchester, we were both burnt out. Snowboard holidays had become a regular thing for us. We weren’t married, we didn’t have any kids. So after turning 30, we sold our house and went snowboarding for a year!
Amazing. Did you always have the idea of running your own chalet in mind?
We knew we wanted to do something in hospitality. We spent six months in Whistler before heading to western New Zealand for a winter in Queenstown. It was only when we got to the Alps, discovered the whole catered chalet thing that we thought we could do it ourselves.
So how did you go about it?
Well, we ended up working in chalets for a couple of seasons, learning everything as we went along. Then one summer, we set off in our little red Golf and camped in all the ski resorts across the Alps. We came across Morzine, it had a big mountain biking scene and real liveliness off-peak! That’s what lead to us selling everything we owned in England and setting up More Mountain here.
No-one at that time was running snowboard-specific chalets. There were budget ones but we wanted something a bit nicer – for people in their 30s. So we set up a luxury snowboard chalet without the pretentiousness for riders just like us! Then we went on to add blokes’ snowboard camps, board test camps – and it went from there.
What’s an average day running More Mountain like?
We get up at 6.30 am as we have little nipper, do some early email checking, get him sorted and off to creche. By 8.30am, we’re in the office at More Mountain HQ with our three staff, Sam, Laura and Jen. Emails take the best part of three hours each morning for me as we still deal direct with all our guests. We do a quick round-up of the day’s tasks – and then it all starts.
The phone rings constantly from 7.30 am. There may be a technical issue in one of the chalets – someone’s WiFi isn’t working, bacon is running out at Chalet Robin, the dishwasher in Chalet Jiri needs fixing – and this is all way before 9.30am!
Alongside taking bookings, we’ll be making sure the bread order is correct, the butcher is delivering chicken for the chalet’s dinners that evening, liaising with a French handyman because a patio door is stuck in one of the apartments, or someone has locked themselves out, or the tap water has frozen! Then we’ll be organising last minute requests for lift passes and ski hire for guests. By 11.30am, it’s calmer and we finally get to go riding!
We get a couple of hours on the hill before 2.30pm, when we head back to the office. Then it’s off to pick up our son from crèche, bring him back to the office, give him dinner before dashing back to the chalets to see the guests. We’ll have a quick catch up, a glass of wine and leave them to their dinner. Back at our house, we’ll put the little one to bed, feed ourselves, John tackles the emails until about 10.30pm – then bed. After which it all starts again the next day!
What was the hardest part of setting up your own chalet?
Getting other people to realise what we were doing was real! Nobody thought we could do it. Everyone said you won’t make a business out of a snowboard chalet – you’ll only ever make money out of skiers. But we were determined. We didn’t have the Bank of Mum and Dad, we did it all ourselves.
How does the lifestyle compare to being back in the UK?
It’s equally as busy, there’s more pressure when you have your own business. You never have a holiday, you’re always thinking about work, but you get to meet and work with really cool people. For us, it’s all about the people we work with at the end of the day.
It’s also brilliant living in the mountains. You take for granted that you can snowboard every day. We have a little boy now and we’ve become such a family unit in France. We couldn’t have done it if we hadn’t taken that leap of faith and gone for it!
Have you managed to nab yourself a sick seasonaire job? Or know someone who does something a bit out of the ordinary to live in the mountains? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured in our next post.