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#69341 - 05/31/03 07:28 PM gratuity expectations
JeanH Offline
Hi, We're making our first trip to San Pedro a week from today. Staying at the Blue Tang. I was just reading their 'travel tips' and noticed that a "gratuity of 10-15% should be left at the front desk upon check-out". Is this a normal practice in Belize? I usually leave a few dollars for the maid, but this seems like alot to me. For a six night stay, it would be around $100.00. Thanks for any insight into this.

#69342 - 05/31/03 08:46 PM Re: gratuity expectations
toad Offline
screw that

#69343 - 05/31/03 09:13 PM Re: gratuity expectations
Kra-Z-K Offline

Tax and hotel service fees are already included in the total of your hotel bill... so that is what they mean by the 10-15%. Whatever they charge at your hotel already includes it.
However, I disagree with Toad..."Screw that." After a few days in San Pedro, you should be pleasantly surprised by the wonderful people and culture. I truely appreciate all that these people did for me, from simply helping me w/ carrying bags from one place to the next to racing me out on a boat when I missed a day trip by 30 minutes, etc... they deserve to be tipped so leave a dollar or two each day for your maid, mine were very kind to me and I stayed at 3 diff places.

#69344 - 05/31/03 10:44 PM Re: gratuity expectations
Chris Offline
Hotels in Belize are only obliged to charge the 7% Government Hotel Tax onto the bill.

Hotels that charge extra as a "service charge" do it either because they don't pay their employees enough or they pocket a share of the "Service Charge" themselves. Funnily enough, none of the budget hotels in town such as Rubies play this "service charge" game. It is only mid to high end hotels, and only some of them do it.

For example, one well known hotel up North adds an extra 5% on top of their room charges of anything from 159.00-259.00US a night plus tax for a thatched hut. It would seem better if they'd just include the 5% in the room charge and pay their employees properly. It would then be left to guests to tip where appropriate.

There is a great restaurant (and small hotel) on the North side of the island, which few would dispute is one of the best eateries on the island, that charges a whopping 10% "service charge" on to their room rates. The restaurant waiters etc. are surely well tipped by their many patrons but I wonder why the hotel rates of $105.00US up to $160.00US plus tax don't allow them to pay the hotel workers properly?

I personally am against the idea of adding a Service Charge to an already expensive hotel bill. It somehow suggests that the 100's of dollars paid for a weeks hotel accommodation only pays for the shelter and the shower...that somehow one should pay extra for polite, cheerful and efficient service.

When browsing through Ambergriscaye.com looking for your next hotel it might be worth bearing that in mind.

#69345 - 06/01/03 09:11 AM Re: gratuity expectations
dogmatic prevaricator Offline
A truly gratuitous assumption that gratuities are mandatory
If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.

#69346 - 06/01/03 11:48 AM Re: gratuity expectations
Pedro1 Offline
There is at least one hotel down south that does this as well,and I was present when the people questioned a forced gratuity-it got a very nasty response from the front desk,and the people paid, but the outcome was they would never come back to that paticular hotel again,or indeed the country.

Under english law you can ask for a gratuity but the customer has the right to refuse to pay-it is totally irrelevant what is written .i.e. on the bottom of the menu,on hotel bill etc.It is the same as putting extra on a credit card this has been against visa/mc policy for years but businesses here were putting up to 5% to cover their fees to the cc companies.
My belief is that when I stay in a hotel or eat in a restaurant it is my decision on what I pay extra,and this in turn depends on good service,quality of meal/room etc..
When I had a job(a long long time ago)my company did not give me extra money for tidying my desk(my sec. did it anyway) or writing a nice report.I got a bonus from the company at the end of the year from the board and this was purely dependant on how the company had performed in the previous financial year.
I have no idea if it is legal to force charge gratuities in Belize,as the law is based on english law,I doubt it,but I will find out and report back.

#69347 - 06/01/03 12:02 PM Re: gratuity expectations
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Having stayed at probably 150 or 200 hotels in Belize over the years, I can say that the practice of imposing service charges ... definitely varies.

Just as it does in the U.S. or many other parts of the world.

Most budget hotels, and quite a few mid-level places, don't have any service charges, but some of these do have surcharges for payment by credit card. Many upscale hotels, especially jungle lodges, impose a 5 to 15% service charge, but some do not have any included service charge, and others such as Chan Chich (and I guess Blue Tang) have a "pool system" where guests are asked to make a single contribution to staff gratuities on check-out. Still other hotels suggest a certain amount per day for housekeeping and other staff. And of course at a lot of places you pay as you go -- with tips to waitstaff, porters, etc.

My view in general is that you end up paying it one way or another, either hidden in the rate, or direct to staff at time of service, or as a service charge.

--Lan Sluder
Lan Sluder/Belize First

#69348 - 06/01/03 12:18 PM Re: gratuity expectations
Pedro1 Offline
Lan-have to disagree I am extremely well travelled and have lived in Europe,Russsia,China,and holidayed in many other places,while it is a common practice for restaurants to add gratuities but I know in europe this is, in reality, a suggested tip and cannot be enforced.
I have owned a large hotel and have stayed in hundreds and I do not recall any of them charging me a gratuity for me being able to sleep.
Chris is correct if the hotel wants to pay the staff more money -raise the rack rates rather than having hidden charges.

#69349 - 06/01/03 12:25 PM Re: gratuity expectations
Chris Offline
I have major gripes with hotels that charge Service Charges:

1. Often the whole Service Charge is not passed onto the employees.
2. Often the Service Charge is hidden in hotel small print....tourists sometimes don't realize it's extra until the end of their stay. Kind hearted tourists often tip hotel staff at the standard rate throughout their stay only to find they are "tipping" again when they check out....adding up to a mammoth 25% "tip"
3. Hotels should pay their staff PROPERLY from the get go.

Hotels on Ambergris Caye imposing the Service Charge are all mid to high end places. There is no reason for the extra charges except as a way of avoiding responsibility for paying staff what they deserve in the first place.

And, Lan brings up an interesting point: how many "Low end" jungle resorts are there in Belize? None, I think, they're all mid to mega-high.

How is it that no low end hotels feel the need to charge the Service Charge?

#69350 - 06/01/03 02:22 PM Re: gratuity expectations
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline

There are a surprising number of "low end" jungle lodges in Belize -- by that I mean roughly US$50 a day and under, not including meals. Several of them are on the Mopan River in Cayo, but there is one or two near Belmopan, a couple near Copper Bank in Corozal district, a couple in Toledo. To name a few: Parrot's Nest, Hummingbird Hills, Clarissa Falls, Martz Farm, Guacamallo, Roaring River Lodge, Last Resort, Tranquility Lodge. Of course some are more "in the jungle" than others.

Peter, you're doubtless better traveled than I, but in my experience hotel service charges are fairly common, especially in the Caribbean, Mexico and parts of Latin America. In the Caribbean especially they are extremely common at beach resorts. They are NOT common in the U.S. except at some full-service resorts, but I've found them fairly common in Europe, where they are often included in the bill with taxes and VAT.

Again, as I say, in the end most of us pay service charges for hotel stays -- it's just that some are bundled into the room rate and others are separated out.

--Lan Sluder
Lan Sluder/Belize First

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