The Definitive Guide to Tipping

Tips on Tipping at an all inclusive resort
Updated: Aug 2nd, 2018

My first thought, when asked to write about tipping at all-inclusive resorts, was “match, meet powder keg” — BOOM!

Why? Because tipping at an all-inclusive resort is a highly controversial issue…….so before I get into the “tips on tipping”, I think it’s important to explain the two sides of this polarizing debate.

  • Those against tipping at all-inclusive resorts say that the package they bought is supposed to include tips. They feel resentful if they have to tip on top of what they paid, but worry that if they don’t they’ll get quickly identified as ‘non-tippers’ by the staff, who are all busy fawning over the cash-flashers.
  • For the most part, those in favor of tipping do so for primarily two reasons: 1) to get [what they believe is] better service, and 2) to help the local economy. No doubt there are other reasons, but I’ve spoken to other [American] travelers all over the world (tipping is predominantly an American behavior), and the vast majority cite those two reasons.

At this point I should probably ‘fess up……I’m a tipper. Yes, I know that by outing myself, I risk incurring the wrath of the non-tippers — and I respect your position, all of you non-tippers, I really, really do! I even agree with you on some level. Just not totally.

It’s the small cash we leave behind that really helps the local economy, much more than the thousands of dollars spent on a vacation.

BUT, I don’t do it to get better service or special treatment. After all, if an all-inclusive resort doesn’t have great service, or doesn’t treat me like I’m important (without tipping), you won’t find me staying there. And I’ve learned that the staff at the best all inclusive resorts won’t risk incurring the wrath of some guests by not treating everyone with an equally superior level of service. I tip for the second reason mentioned above……many all-inclusive resorts are on beautiful beaches that just happen to be located in some very poor areas of the world, where the concept of a loan for a mortgage or education is not available to the common worker, or simply doesn’t exist.

SO I tip. I shop. I go on excursions and tours. I go explore the cities and towns outside of the resort walls, I occasionally eat in local restaurants and bring home silly souvenirs that I could do without. It’s the small cash we leave behind that really helps the economy, much more than the thousands of dollars spent on a resort vacation.

And now — Some Tips on Tipping:

  1. Know the resort’s policy beforehand. This is critical – if an employee could lose his or her job over it, please just don’t….for some it’s too much temptation, and no matter how well-meaning you are, you really could be doing far more harm than good.
  2. If tipping is allowed, keep it small. Unless you’re a member of the Rockefeller, Getty, or Trump family, you really don’t need to throw around Benjamins…..or Jackson, Hamiltons, or even Lincolns…….good old George Washingtons will do fine for your beachside or poolside attendant, generally one for every three or four rounds of drinks, a bit more frequent if they’re also bringing you food, or you’re part of a big group (which means more trips and heavier trays). More frequently if you tend to be obnoxious when drinking, waaay more frequently if you are just an obnoxious person (no alcohol involved).
  3. Keep it unobtrusive. Although many resorts won’t fire employees for accepting tips, it can still be frowned on, or cause problems with other guests (the non-tippers), so keep the hand-off on the down-low and it will be appreciated even more.
  4. Remember that it’s not charity – it’s a ‘thank you’. No one wants to think you’re giving them cash because you pity them, but everyone wants to feel appreciated. Your attitude will count for much more than the cash will.
  5. Don’t forget those less visible. Tip your housekeeper a minimum of two dollars per day of your stay — daily is best as different employees work different days — and put it in an envelope with the words “For Housekeeping” on it so it’s clear it’s a tip and not some forgotten cash that they could be accused of taking. If they’ve given great service (extra towels when you request them, extra bottled water, extra chocolates on your pillow, etc.), then add another dollar or two per day. Bonus points if you can manage to write “thank you for taking such good care of us” on the envelope in their native language (Google Translate can help here).

Whether or not to tip at an all-inclusive resort is a personal decision, my advice is to listen to your gut — you’ll know if it feels right or not. At the end of the day, the goal of a vacation is to go home feeling good about your trip……tip or don’t tip, as long as you’re okay with your decision, no one else’s opinion matters.

Do you tip at an all-inclusive resort? Why or why not?

About Trisha Miller 44 Articles
Trisha is the Editor-in-Chief at Travel Writers Exchange, a community for travel writers & bloggers. She's also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a former member of the IFWTWA, serving on their Board of Directors from 2009 through 2015. When not traveling the world, Trisha occasionally guest-blogs for a number of websites, writing mainly about travel and technology, sometimes both at the same time.

8 Comments

  1. Great info! I too am a tipper. I would recommend tipping housekeeping daily instead of the end of a stay. Just in case your beloved housekeeper is off in the day you check out!

    • Great tip Sarah! It never occurred to me that the housekeeper who takes care of us all week might not be there on the day we leave…….from now on I will leave a tip daily. Whether someone chooses to tip daily or at the end of their stay, I do think one should either hand them the tip or leave it in an envelope with their name on it (or just the word ‘housekeeping’ if you don’t know the name of the individual) so that it’s clear who it’s for.

  2. Is the Resorts policy on tipping obvious as I don’t have any literature or is this something that I should ask about as I check in.

    • Hi Deborah,
      Most all-inclusive resorts specifically state whether or not tips are included in their price (and most do include them), but it’s always a good idea to ask (either your travel agent, or when you book or check in), and more importantly ask what their policy is if you DO tip – the last thing you probably want is to get anyone into trouble. I’ve been to a few resorts where it’s actively discouraged, and tips are refused by employees, but at many they are gratefully accepted.

  3. I planning a wedding at an all inclusive resort and I am paying for my quests. I do not want them to feel responsible for tipping. Would it be out of line to ask for a gathering of the staff on the day that we leave, so that we, my husband and I could thank them personally as well as leave a monetary thank you.

    • Hi Sandi,

      What a lovely idea and a generous gesture……do keep in mind that it’s really not required, but if you and your husband would really like to personally thank (and tip) the staff, then first be sure it’s not against the resort’s policies, and then ask the folks whom you want to recognize if they’ll be working on your last (full) day there (not the day you leave, which would likely be a busy one!) – often they work different shifts and their day off might be the very day you wanted to say goodbye and thank them…..this will help you choose the best time to find them individually…..which would be better given that it would be very difficult to gather them all in one place……..most resort employees stay very busy and they’d be spread out all over the resort doing their jobs. But I guarantee they’ll be delighted by your appreciation!

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