Social Life in a Ski Town, Wanaka
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We’re all in this together – aren’t we? Well, not at staff parties.


As I think about it – staff parties are somehow very reflective of the company culture. I’ve seen them BMW style – where it’s all about the style and very classy, IKEA style – where it’s all about the fun and the people and now Cardrona style – where, to me it seems, it’s a lot about the alcohol and some seriously crazy partying. Or is that because of its employees?

Last year, I didn’t know what to expect: I bought my staff party tickets – consisting of entry, bus to the venue, food voucher and four drink vouchers, hopped on the bus to the Albert Town Tavern and stepped into the Pub without expectations – but was surprised anyway: The tables were pushed to the sides to create a wide and empty space – no tables, no sitting opportunity, just a huge empty room. Everybody who was already there huddled together like a herd of sheep in one corner of the room and chatted in little groups. Since there was nothing in the room, not even music, the acoustics were – let’s say – irritating and incredibly loud. I thought a drink might help and steered towards the bar asking for a glass of wine. Turned out, my drink voucher was only valid for can drinks – either a beer (which I don’t like) or a vodka-mix-drink (which I don’t like either but lacking other possibilities I gave it a try). It was probably the worst drink I ever had, half of it was vodka and the other half probably liquid sugar. I gave my remaining drink vouchers to one of the boys and settled for seven-dollar-per-tiny-plastic-cup-cider for the rest of the night.

With the learnings from last year I didn’t expect much and only bought bus and entry ticket this season. Secretly, I hoped though, that things would have changed. And they did – at least a tiny bit: The entrance was at the front of the pub so there was a space of the area which seemed like a proper bar and thus more cosy. Don’t get me wrong – both last year’s and this year’s staff party were great fun in the end. Beer for the boys, vodka for the girls and a good band are a killer recipe for any party – now throw in all that party-loving ski field staff and you’ll end up with a night to remember. Even for the ones still drinking seven-dollar-per-tiny-plastic-cup-cider. And the dancing we did, the laughs we had, the hugs we shared will be in my memory forever.

Nevertheless I was a bit disappointed that such little effort was spent on one of the company’s most valuable assets – its work force. And I’m not only talking about monetary effort here. It would be easy to make this party a tiny bit more special to all staff, to show that we’re important. It’s one of the only opportunities that the whole mountain can get together, that lifties mingle with food & beverage staff, that ski instructors meet the house keeping people, that patrol gets together with rentals and so on. As staff we took that chance for ourselves but I thought it was sad that so little managers did. I saw three managers during that party and I might have missed some but I didn’t get the feeling of “We’re all in this together” that is omnipresent all over the mountain. It might be a bit risky to jot down all this criticism where it can actually be read – but talking to a couple of people I know that it’s not only my impression alone. And I’m not talking about ski school parties here – which are a completely other cup of tea and where togetherness is celebrated in style – or in costumes. Anyway, sorry for the ranting…. it’s over now and to show that we had some serious fun have a look at a couple of pics I snapped that night:

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