Gratuities are one of the things that often gets overlooked by travelers until they are actually on their trip. Around the world, different countries and cultures have their own customs when leaving gratuities. I think staying at an all-inclusive resort can be confusing for guests. Which is why it is important to understand how much you should plan on bringing before you travel!
Certain resorts do have policies that forbid tipping. At these places, you don't need to tip. However, the majority of all-inclusive resorts are places where tipping is accepted and appreciated. A general rule of thumb is that employees will gladly accept US currency. I always recommend to plan on bringing $1 and $5 bills to do the majority of your tipping. If you forget or run out of money, ATMs are available, but will most likely give money in the host countries currency. If you don't know how to do the conversion in your head....ask someone for help!
The following are guidelines in regards to leaving gratuities that we've put together for your benefit.
Meals: The servers at these resorts are incredibly hardworking and some of the nicest we've encountered. We used to always leave a few dollars BC (before children), but now with Sarah, we always leave $4-5. Same applies for a la carte restaurants.
Bartenders: This is always a tricky one. I always abide by the $1/drink rule. If I know I'm going to be at the swim up bar, and don't want to carry around a bunch of singles, I'll bring a $5-10 bill and give it to the bartender with my first drink. For servers that brink drinks when you're by the beach/pool, I'll give $1/drink.
Maids/Turn Down: The general rule of thumb, and what I abide by is $5/night. What can be tough is actually making sure the maid actually takes the gratuity. What I usually do is put it underneath a water glass.
Transfer: This depends on how long the transfer to/from the airport is. I would say $10-20 is pretty standard. If it is a private transfer, towards the higher end of things.
Tour Guide/Driver: Plenty of times the tour guide and driver are two different people. Depending on how long the tour is, be prepared to give at least $20 per person.
Spa: I can't say I have a ton of experience utilizing spa services. But from my investigation and talking to other agents, a tip of 20-30% of the total cost of your service is standard.
Restocker: For those that don't know, there is typically a stocked mini-fridge and liquor dispensers in the rooms at all-inclusive resorts. Usually once a day someone comes around to restock them. I usually leave $1-2/day. If you want a specific drink, make sure to write it down.
Misc Help: This all depends on what service someone is providing. Use your best judgement. For example, when we were in Mexico this past summer, our safe wouldn't work. Someone came and reset the code for us. I handed him $5 for his help.
At the end of the day, realize that many of these employees are working for the gratuities you provide them. If at anytime you don't think someone is doing a good job or performing up to a level you expect, it is important to say something to someone. If you don't get the response that you want, contact your travel agent! At Blue Sea Vacations, we have no problem using our connections to help get the problem resolved as soon as possible!
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