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Perisher ski lodge up for sale as owners trade alpine peaks for coastal sands

Bianca Gurra, Saturday August 5, 2017 - 08:31 EST
ABC licensed image
Karen and Neville Owen are selling Chalet Sonnenhoff after running the ski lodge for 25 years. - ABC licensed

You might have heard of a sea change - but what about a ski change?

If you are looking to ditch the 9:00am - 5:00pm lifestyle in the city for a change of pace you may be in luck - with one of Perisher's historic lodges up for sale.

But what is it really like to run and live at a ski lodge?

Current owner and operator Karen Owen said while it has its rewards, it is not all snowball fights and bluebird days.

Karen and her husband Neville have owned and operated Chalet Sonnenhoff in the Perisher Valley for the past 25 years.

But now they are looking to sell up - trading the alpine peaks for coastal sands.

"The lifestyle up here is great ... it is definitely a lifestyle change," she said.

"I love it because I love winter being cold and the snow and I like my summers to be sunny, so I like that you have two seasons in one year."

She estimates the pair work six months of the year, including being on call 24/7 for 120 days during winter.

Karen said during their peak season they were up and working from 7:00am, setting up, serving and clearing up for the breakfast rush, until they switch to being housekeepers.

"We start servicing the rooms at 9:30am and usually finish at about 10:30am," she said.

"That's when I've got a full team on, so it only takes that hour, and then we all go skiing.

"I can grab two hours skiing here and there, which is pretty good."

During the day, it is all about managing bookings and sorting the administration side of things, before switching back to the restaurant and preparing and serving dinner, ending the day about 9:30pm.

But if the chalet is short-staffed at the last minute, Karen and Neville are left to pick up the pieces.

"You just have to be able to try your hand at doing most things, just in case something happens like [if] you have a staff member get sick you've got to fill in," she said.

Although the family is able to take a couple of months off for a holiday in November and December, there is still work to be done when the snow has melted.

"There is a fair bit of time off there in the summer, but someone still has to take the bookings, you still have to maintain the business if you want it to be viable," Karen said.

But she said despite the sometimes gruelling winter schedule, it had been an amazing place to raise her two children, who were now grown up.

"In the morning we would take them down to the school bus on the Ski-doo [snowmobile]," she said.

"A lot of people can't believe they actually grew up in Perisher."

Not just all skiing and fun

According to Karen there are a few things you should know before you take on a lodge.

"You do have to be pretty good at most things," she said.

"If things break down you have to be there to fix it. You have to be a Jack of all trades."

But Karen said she thought the business would be a great venture for "ski changers".

As for Karen and Neville, they said the time had come for them to swap sand for snow.

"We have a place down on the South Coast, so we'll probably reside down there at Merimbula," Karen said.

"It's lovely down there in the summer ... it's nice having that in the summer and this [cold weather] in the winter."

Chalet Sonnenhoff at Perisher is on the market for a cool $2.3 million.


© ABC 2017

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