Photo Courtesy of Digital Vision/ThinkstockAll-inclusive vacations are something that, according to Forbes, six out of ten people search for when planning a luxury getaway. Although the phrase “all-inclusive” may conjure up images of buffets and group activities, it probably also makes you think about the definition of “all-inclusive.” Does the set price for a room include a swim with dolphins, or is that extra? And, if it is indeed included, how much does one tip for those making such an experience happen?
It is important, first of all, to look more closely at into your chosen resort's protocol before booking a stay. Most likely, their tipping policy will be stated, and you will rest easy knowing that you are doing things the way they should be. Sandals and Club Med, like many other all-inclusive resorts, actually prohibit tipping; however if someone goes above and beyond for you, you may have an irrepressible desire to reward them. If you find yourself in a situation where your service provider won’t accept your generous gift, we suggest you write a glowing letter to their manager, rather than make things uncomfortable by trying to sneak a couple Jeffersons into their back pocket.
Stephanie Wilson, director of hospitality for Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado, says that her resort provides guests with the option of paying into a tip pool, where they are allowed to tip at checkout, but the money is distributed to all service providers accordingly. This option may not satisfy your desire to reward a specific staff-member, but as many resorts don’t allow tips at all, a communal pool is better than no option at all.
If tips are not included in the price, then gratuity will depend on the country that the resort is in. Some of the most common all-inclusive resort locations have the following tipping suggestions:
According to USA Today (as of 2010), a suggested gratuities budget is about $100 a week at a Mexican resort. CN Traveler informs that it is customary to tip about 10-15% for restaurant services, especially at tourist destinations like Cabo San Lucas; 10–20 pesos per bag to the bellman; housekeepers receive 20–50 pesos per night; and 50–150 pesos for the concierge depending on how much they assisted during the stay.
CN Traveler also suggests that in the Caribbean, $20 a week should suffice for maid service and bellmen. They also advise tipping concierge generously for any difficult or time-consuming services they provide, and adding 15-20% to your bill at restaurants and spas, if there is no service charge. For guided day tours, Conde Nast says $25 for the guide and $10 for the driver. Operations and Product Director of Americas of Palladium Hotel Group, Felipe Martinez Verde proposes tipping generously in Caribbean destinations, as hotel staff are often locals and big tips could make a difference in their annual income.
Paradisus Resorts suggests tipping $1-5 for bellhops per bag and $1-2 for housekeepers per night at their Costa Rican property. They also recommend $5-15 per person on guided day tours and state that service charges will probably be included in the cost of a meal, but if not then 10% is generous. Giving a couple dollars to the driver who takes you to the airport is standard according to CN Traveler, as that may be a stressful ordeal.
The prohibition of tipping at all-inclusives may seem a bit extreme in some cases, but Americas of Palladium Hotel Group’s Felipe Martinez Verde assures us that resorts often enact this ban to simply guarantee guests do not feel discriminated against based on how much they tip. Even if an all-inclusive includes gratuity, there will undoubtedly be services which you pay extra for, and those will warrant a tip. Spa services, for instance, are often either limited or not included in all-inclusive packages and masseuse gratuities should be factored in to your vacation budget. Since the rules do vary based on location and resort, the bottom line is it is important to do your research and be prepared so you have no surprises and can focus on making the most of your vacation.