May 26, 2023

Tipping at All-Inclusive Resorts

Do you tip at all-inclusive resorts? Here's what you need to know.

Tipping at All-Inclusive Resorts

Is tipping required at an all-inclusive resort?

All-inclusive resorts are obviously our favorite way to vacation because of the hassle-free, all-in-one experience. Whether you are traveling to Cancún, Punta Cana or Turks and Caicos, you may be wondering how much to tip at all-inclusive resorts.

Sure, all-inclusive does mean that everything is included. And while tipping is not required most places, it is appreciated and will lead to better service during your stay. Simply put, it's what kind people do who want to take care of the hard-working resort staff.

We've created this simple guide to tipping etiquette to make your next vacation smoother.

A woman counting a stack of twenty dollar bills

How much cash should I bring for tipping?

Before we dive into the full tipping breakdown, here is your main takeaway: for couples, we recommend bringing ~$200 USD cash for a one-week stay. If you're able to use the local currency, this is more convenient for resort staff. This doesn't happen often though, so USD is just fine.

It's best to bring this in small ($1) bills for two reasons:

  1. First, finding change at the resort for large bills may be difficult, since this isn't a service many resorts offer.
  2. Second, this gives you plenty of tipping flexibility no matter where you're at. Be sure to use bills and not coins though, as these are more difficult currency for staff to exchange.

This is an easy thing to plan ahead for by withdrawing a stack of one dollar bills from the bank. Depending on your daily budget, we would recommend putting all cash into separate envelopes for each day. This helps you stay on budget and these envelopes can be left in the room safe.

Now, let's talk through each tipping situation to eliminate the guesswork on your trip.

Smiling male bellhop pushing luggage cart in front of hotel

First things first: tipping the airport transfer driver and bellhop

Depending on how you booked your trip, your resort or travel agent may have booked your driver from the airport to your resort. In this case, we typically tip the driver around 20% or $10 minimum for the transport. For longer transports, you might consider adding more.

Once you arrive at the resort, a bellhop will likely unload your bags to deliver to your room while you go through the check-in process. These bellhops are typically the first interaction you'll have at the resort and they are pros at excellent service. Plan on tipping the bellhop $2-3 per bag, or $5 minimum.

A romantic beachside dinner setting with lamps around a dinner table in the sand

How much do I tip for meals at resorts?

For tipping at all-inclusive resort restaurants, the amount is usually dependent on the meal and how upscale the restaurant is. That said, here is what we typically tip for meals based on the level of service:

  • Breakfast & Lunch: $2-3 per person
  • Dinner: $3-5 per person

If you receive exceptional service, you may want to tip even more to spread the love.

A question we often see travelers asking – do you tip at a buffet? We do recommend leaving a few dollars on the table as there are staff bussing tables during buffet shifts.

Your resort may offer more romantic dinner options, such as private dinners on the beach. Sometimes you'll have dedicated server that is only taking care of you for a couple of hours. In these situations, we recommend tipping even more, in the $10-20 range depending on the level of service.

In the case of room service meals, we usually leave $5 for meal deliveries. These individuals usually put in the extra effort to set up your full meal on your room table, so a tip should be given.

Two happy couples enjoying cocktails at a swim up bar in a resort
Source: Sandals Regency La Toc

Drinks Tipping

When you're at a resort bar or coffee shop, try to tip $1-2 per drink. As you consistently tip the same bartenders throughout your stay, you'll likely notice more personal service and heavier pours.

If you're going to be at one pool or beach bar for a full afternoon, you can also give a larger tip ahead of time. This is a great way to get top notch service instead of tipping per drink.

If you get to know one or two bartenders a bit more during your vacation, you may consider leaving a large tip during your last interaction to thank them for the great week. This is so appreciated by them!

Outside of regular bars, be sure to also tip poolside servers a dollar or two per drink.

a woman getting a massage on a table with white towels and hands massaging her back

Spa Services

For special services such as spa treatments, a 20% tip is customary.

Some resorts will give you free services like hydrotherapy (we HIGHLY recommend hydrotherapy). For complimentary services like this, a spa employee will still be guiding you around. Try to leave $5 for these services and give it to the person at the beginning of the hydrotherapy circuit, as you may not see them again at the end.

two white bath towels folded on a bed in the shape of two swans

How much do you tip housekeeping?

Leave a daily tip for housecleaners – this is one of the most important areas to tip. We like to leave $3-5 on the bed each morning before going to breakfast.

While your room will be cleaned regardless, the extra tip will sometimes get you extra water bottles or other helpful items. It's nice to show your appreciation for a service you never get at home too!

a smiling woman at a concierge desk with a wood paneled wall behind her

Do you tip concierge?

If you need to use hotel concierge for anything, plan on tipping for each service depending on the quality of the help.

While simple requests like directions or recommendations don't need to be tipped, larger needs like arranging offsite tickets or reservations should be tipped $3-5.

If they pull major strings to help you, you may consider tipping even more.

Resort towel hut worker holding beach towels

Tip the overlooked

A good rule of thumb is to tip more people less than less people more.

While it is easy to forget your limits with tipping, there are a few staff roles at resorts than can get overlooked on tips:

  • Buffet chefs
  • Entertainers
  • Towel hut attendees
  • Beach cleaners
  • Janitors
  • Landscapers
  • Restaurant hostesses

What currency should you tip in?

It doesn't matter if you are tipping in Costa Rica or tipping in Cancún, US dollars work just fine. While local currency is more convenient for staff, it's rare for travelers to do the conversion math every time they tip.

Resort Tipping Cheat Sheet

✦ Tipping leads to better service
✦ Bring $200/week for couples
✦ Tip $10 for airport transfers
✦ Tip $5 minimum for bellhops
✦ Tip $2-3 per person for breakfast and $3-5 per person for dinner
✦ Tip $5 minimum for room service
✦ Tip $1-2 for drinks
✦ Tip 20% for spa services
✦ Tip $3-5 per day for housekeeping
✦ Tip concierge $3-5 per request

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