Tipping is fairly standard throughout the Caribbean, and, as with any tourist destination, you may encounter various industry-specific taxes and service charges. Carefully read your bills and the fine print, and don't hesitate to query the friendly island staffers about unfamiliar charges.
When perusing hotel rates, keep in mind that most hotels in the Caribbean add a government tax of approximately 7.5 percent in addition to an average 10 to 15 percent service charge to the price of the room. There may be other charges for items not included with the room such as special amenities or upgrades. High-end resorts or luxury hotels may charge surplus fees up to or beyond 20 percent. If you ask, employees at a hotel reservation desk will gladly provide details of these taxes and fees.
If your particular hotel does not add service charges to the final bill, tipping is acceptable for employees such as bellhops and maids. Generally, Caribbean bellhops expect $1 to $2(USD) per bag as a flat rate, but this rate increases as the class of the hotel does. A minimum tip for hotel maids is typically $2(USD) per day, and, just as with bellhops, tipping standards may be higher in more expensive hotels. Consider keeping smaller bills in an easily accessible location for quick tipping.
Many Caribbean all-inclusive hotels and resorts expressly discourage tipping. Your accommodation rate generally includes all tipping and service charges, although "all-inclusive" may mean different things at different hotels. Consult your travel agent, hotelier, or reservations clerk concerning the finer points of your all-inclusive package.
Caribbean restaurants often incorporate an automatic gratuities charge into the final bill, which is usually 10 percent of the total cost of the meal. Additional tipping is at the individual's discretion, but it is not expected. If a tip is not automatically included in your final bill, you should leave 10-15 percent for servers and either $1 to $2(USD) per round of drinks for bartenders or 10-15 percent of the total bar tab. If you are particularly delighted with your service, you may want to leave more than 15 percent.
Taxi service is available throughout the Caribbean. On some islands, taxis operate on a meter system; on other islands taxis adhere to fixed government rates. Also, depending on the island, you may have to pay either per car or per person. Most islands lawfully require cabs to display their rate card on the interior of the vehicle. Nonetheless, you should establish a flat fare with the driver before service begins. It is customary to tip taxi drivers approximately $1 to $2(USD) for in-town fares. Plan on tipping more on holidays, after midnight, and on Sundays in the Caribbean.
When you know the appropriate amount to tip in the Caribbean, you will easily avoid offending the people who have worked hard to serve you. Show your appreciation for good service by tipping accordingly.
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