All-inclusive resorts are such an amazingly convenient and cost-effective way of traveling to our favorite tropical destinations. It takes a lot of heavy planning out of traveling, with nearly everything being included in your stay – meals, drinks, room service, and even some activities.
With the “everything-is-covered” model, it prompts a lot of my clients to ask: “Are tips already in the price?” This is a tricky one to answer with a solid “yes” or “no.” The short answer is gratuity is not obligatory, so it is not necessarily included. However you may still feel the need to tip the people giving you incredible service.
Now how much to tip can seem as complicated as calculus, especially at an All- Inclusive Resort where at the end of your day by the swim-up bar or your fabulous dinner at a Seafood specialty restaurant there is no tab.
You don’t want to seem cheap, but you don’t want to overdo it- especially if you are travelling on a tight budget. Here is a quick guide to show your gratitude for amazing service and yummy drinks in a variety of situations:
For a one-week stay at an all-inclusive resort, a couple should budget to spend about $150 US or approximately $3080 Pesos total in tips. This means that you should bring about $20 USD/$400 Pesos in small bills with you to spend on tips throughout the day.
Bag attendants and shuttle drivers: $1 USD/$20 Pesos per bag or $1 USD/$20 Pesos for every few trips to andfrom the room.
Housekeeping staff: $2 USD/$40 Pesos per day. Hint: Something to keep in mind is that they tend to rotate every few days so if you are tipping only at the end of your stay, you may only be tipping one person so you may want to do it daily.
Hint: If you want extra beer or bottled water instead of pop in your mini fridge, leave $2-$5 USD/$40-$100 Pesos with a note indicating your preference. First figure out what you'd like more of (be reasonable with your requests), then Google how to write this in Spanish. Write it out on a piece of paper and leave it inside the fridge. Why inside the fridge, because most often there is a different person other than your maid that refills the mini-bar.
Room service: $5-$10 USD/$100-$200 Pesos depending on the complexity of the order and time of day.
Buffet meals: $1-$2 USD/$20-$40 Pesos per table.
Buffet station chefs: $1 USD/$20 Pesos.
A la carte meals: $5 USD/$100 Pesos per couple.
Concierge: $5-$10 USD/$100-$200 Pesos depending on your usage.
Bartenders: $1-$2 USD/$20-$40 Pesos per drink order. Hint: Keep using (and tipping) the same bartender throughout the week and you’ll get excellent service.
Pool Boys: $5 USD/$100 Pesos if they save you prime chairs by the pool.
Spa Service Provider: Add 15 to 20 percent on the cost of a spa treatment.
Tour guide: $5 USD/$100 Pesos per couple.
Private transfer: $5-$20 USD/$100-400 Pesos per couple.
Bus driver: $1-$2 USD/$20-$40 Pesos per couple.
Resorts Do Not Expect You To, But Most Guests Do If you have ever searched a resort’s website for gratuity information, you probably came up a little short. Resort brands do not typically advertise their expectations in regards to gratuity, but generally they do not require you to tip. We should say that the views about tipping we present here are not to represent the views of our resort partners. The idea of an all-inclusive resort is for you to not worry about everyday inconveniences like costs and bills, so they do not necessarily want you to worry about tipping either. However if you have ever been to an all-inclusive resort, you will have noticed something. Most guests still tip. It’s one of those forces of habit that’s hard to shake. When we receive great service, we want to show our appreciation with a tip. For many, it’s just the polite thing to do. So while it is not expected and you do not have to, you will notice that tipping is normal at all-inclusive resorts.
Why You Should Tip If you’ve ever been to a quality all-inclusive resort, you know that the employees bend over backwards to ensure that you have a wonderful vacation experience. These men and women usually work six days a week for very little pay. How little? I’m glad you asked.
I checked a few job sites online and there were several listings for positions at all-inclusives. The average starting salary for both waiters and bartenders was only between $4,000 -$6,000 pesos a month. In U.S. dollars, that equates to $226-$339 dollars a month. The salaries for other positions, such as concierge and housekeeper, weren’t much better.
Money Saving Tip Now aside from questions about tipping, the most common money question I get asked is, "What should I use, Pesos or US Dollars"?
You don't necessarily need to rush out and get US dollars before you leave home especially when our dollar is currently worth less than the US Dollar.
While smaller denominations of US currency are widely accepted, Mexico’s official currency is the Peso. Even at par, if you convert Canadian dollars to US dollars it’s not an even trade as your buy rate will be higher than the sell rate. Second, if you then need to convert to pesos, you will once again lose on the transaction; how much will depend on whether you are exchanging at a bank, currency exchange or somewhere else. So unless you have an excess of US cash go with Pesos, they can be easily ordered from your bank.
Another question often asked “what should we bring to help people in Mexico?” The answer; “money”.
Employees at most resorts must go through security entering and exiting the resort. Bags are checked. If an employee has “something” not accompanied by a note from the giver, the item will be confiscated.
Many hotel employees are transient, living on site, sometimes in dorm- room fashion or two to four people to a small room. They have absolutely no room for “things” and often things given to them are re-gifted or sold to somebody else.
If you would like to take “things” to Mexico a good idea is to contact an existing charity and ask them what you could bring to help out their cause. There are a number of charities to choose from that would be grateful for donations.
Keep in mind Mexico has Wal- Mart, Sam’s Club, Cosco and stores like “dollar stores” so all the cheap stuff you have at home is also available to Mexicans. Taking cheap junk from the dollar store [except toys] that will break easily is a waste of time. Things that need batteries are also not recommended.