You’ve worked hard, and now it’s time for a vacation! Whether it’s relaxing by the poolside or ordering luxury room service, all-inclusive resorts are a load of fun. It seems counterintuitive, but all-inclusive resorts often do not include gratuity in your forward payment. That begs the question: do you tip at all-inclusive resorts?
The consensus among guests and travel experts is that guests should tip staff members. When planning how much cash and what kind to bring with you on your vacation, there are a few considerations. Accounting for who to tip, how much, and in what currency can significantly affect your budget for your vacation.
- Is Tipping Required?
- Will the Staff Accept Tips?
- So, Who Do You Tip At All-Inclusive Resorts?
- Every Little Bit Counts
- Tipping Once
- Off-Resort Vendors
- Don’t Forget Taxes and Other Fees
- So, How Do You Tip At All-Inclusive Resorts?
Is Tipping Required?
In most cases, no, tipping is not required. But there are some factors to account for when budgeting the cash you need to bring on vacation. First, is gratuity already included with your all-inclusive stay? Some resorts share gratuity and charge up-front. It’s still considered polite to tip individual staff members, especially if they go above and beyond for you.
Tipping may not be required, but most guests tip anyway, and therefore there is some expectation that you tip as well. Staff members will not bully or pressure you into providing a tip, and you shouldn’t sweat it if you can’t or don’t tip absolutely everyone.
Will the Staff Accept Tips?
There is a lot to consider when booking an all-inclusive resort experience. While it may seem like you won’t need to bring any money with you because of the all-inclusive nature of your vacation, you’ll need to take a few hundred dollars in cash along. You’ll need to tip team members of the resort, exchange enough money to participate off-resort in the local currency, and cover any unexpected expenses that arise while exploring.
Tipping is not a requirement on your vacation at an all-inclusive resort, but it is the norm among guests in most cases. You can tip in US currency in most cases; however, it is best to avoid using coins because they are harder to exchange.
Before your stay, the best way to determine if you’ll need to bring extra cash for tipping at your all-inclusive resort is to call and ask if staff are allowed to accept tips or not. Some resorts do not allow staff to receive tips or gifts from their guests, so trying to tip a staff member may lead to an awkward rejection or put them in a difficult position.
Accepting tips when they are not allowed to may put the staff member’s employment at risk. The staff member may appear rude to the guest by not taking a tip, damaging the resort’s reputation. It’s best not to put the staff member in that position in the first place by calling and asking in advance.
Most all-inclusive resorts cater to tourists, so tipping in US dollars is fine. There are a few exceptions. For example, try not to use US coins (they are harder to exchange in the local currency), and don’t forget your off-resort servicers like taxi drivers or tour guides. For off-resort staff members like restaurant staff and street vendors, be sure to have local currency for tipping.
So, Who Do You Tip At All-Inclusive Resorts?
Many staff members in an all-inclusive resort interact with guests daily. Some of these staff members are common across a standard hotel experience; tipping them works similarly in a regular hotel.
People like bellhops, valets, concierges, and massage therapists follow the tipping protocol for traditional hotels. However, one should be aware of the tipping differences between a standard hotel and an all-inclusive resort for other staff members.
How much do you tip at all-inclusive resorts to waiters, buffet attendants, and cafe baristas? Tipping restaurant staff usually runs between $1 to $3 per order (aside from buffets). You may want to tip higher if the server or barista goes above and beyond to provide stellar service. For fancier restaurants, $5 per order is standard, except for stellar service.
A lot of the fun at all-inclusive resorts happens at the bar. You may be interacting with bartenders a lot, which gives you lots of opportunities to tip. Some suggest pre-tipping a large bonus on your first order if you intend to visit frequently within a short time. Others recommend $1 to $2 per group order.
Of course, tipping well may encourage faster service. If your drinks are specialized or complicated, it may be good practice to increase your tip for that order.
Pool Area Staff
In sunny, beachy areas, you may spend a lot of time by the pool. In some cases, pool attendants and servers may serve you drinks and snacks while you relax by the water, especially if you’ve rented a cabana or palapa.
Right from the beginning, you may want to tip your dedicated server. Doing this will encourage faster and more attentive service. Remember, you’re tipping for the full day of service, not just one or two orders. All-day service warrants a larger tip (and if they go above and beyond, a little extra at the end of the day is more than welcome).
There is some debate about tipping the housekeeping staff at standard American hotels. The rooms are much bigger at all-inclusive resorts and often include multiple rooms and more surfaces and amenities. In the age of COVID, this may result in a much larger workload for resort staff.
Another consideration regarding the housekeeping workload: sand.
In beachy areas in Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and other popular resort destinations, sand tracks are everywhere. If you’ve been to the beach and track sand in your room, the bathroom, and the bedsheets, that’s extra work for housekeeping.
Dirty towels and straightening up also add to the workload. You may also be inclined to order room service during your stay, which adds to the dirty dishes and trash you may accumulate in your room.
All of this to say: tipping the housekeeping staff at your all-inclusive resort is polite and appreciated. Aim for around $5 per night, but if you leave a massive mess behind you, it is generally encouraged to bump up your tip to $10.
Because of the all-inclusive nature of your stay, your resort likely includes room service. A room service fee will appear on your receipt at a standard hotel, but that fee is already included at an all-inclusive resort. For this reason, your room service attendants will greatly appreciate a tip.
For standard orders, a few dollars will do. But if you’re ordering a lot of trays and drinks at a time to your room, it is polite to bump up your tip to $5 or more.
Bus and Shuttle Drivers
Drivers who work for the resort will likely accept US dollars, even though their services take you off-resort. You can tip a dollar every couple of trips to and from your room for shuttle drivers on the resort. You can pay bus drivers taking you to destinations off-resort $1 to $2 per couple.
Tipping your tour guides after your tour is often expected on and off all-inclusive resorts. Depending on the length of the tour, you may want to tip your guide at $5 to $10 per couple. Don’t be afraid to increase your tip if your tour guide is exceptionally personable or knowledgeable about the area and the sights.
Every Little Bit Counts
While there are many staff to consider and a lot of services included in your vacation to tip for, small tips go a long way. Your service attendants and members of the staff don’t expect huge tips from you. Be sure to keep small bills because the team often cannot break your larger bills for you.
Overall, most experts and guides recommend $150 to $200 for tips on a 1-week stay. That equals about $20 to $25 per day for all staff members you encounter. Only a few dollars per staff member will go a long way, especially if they provide a relatively small service.
It may seem tempting to tip only at the end of your stay, all at once. This type of tipping is especially common at resorts that require their staff to share tips.
However, some resorts don’t require their staff to share gratuity, and by tipping once at the end of your stay, you risk shorting all the staff members who helped and served you throughout your stay. Tipping once at the end will only reward the staff who served you that day.
Don’t forget the locals! Wherever you plan to vacation, be sure to research the tipping practices of the area so that you don’t stiff a local vendor or staff member. It’s good practice to have a few dollars in the local currency for the different people you encounter during your visit off the resort.
These people include street vendors, restaurant workers, and others hosting various activities outside the resort.
Don’t Forget Taxes and Other Fees
Some areas require you to pay tourist fees or environmental taxes. These fees can range from a couple of dollars to ten or more dollars. Be sure to research what fees and taxes you’ll need to pay and budget a little cushion for anything that pops up.
One of the benefits of an all-inclusive resort is that your hidden or surprise fees are minimal, if not non-existent, so long as you remain on the resort. Your up-front bill may not include other expenses if you want to explore.
So, How Do You Tip At All-Inclusive Resorts?
You should tip whoever attends to you directly by providing a specific service. Typical tips range from $1 to $10 depending on the service, duration, and the amount of work or deviation from the routine you require. For example, housekeepers do a lot of work on all-inclusive resorts, and their tips should reflect that and any extra mess you make.
Tips aren’t exclusive to resort staff. Off-site local vendors and service workers also work for tips, and your budget should account for any services outside the resort.
Tips that go to locals off-resort should be in the local currency because those businesses may not accept US dollars, and exchanging tips into the local currency can be taxed at high rates. You should do some quick research on what kind of taxes and fees apply for whatever off-site activities you want to participate in and budget accordingly.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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