All about tipping in Cancun

Tipping is a way of life in Cancun, many of the staff earn a low basic salary and rely on tips to earn a live able wage. I regard tips as a way of showing thanks for a good service received and not as a means to ensure it, if I receive poor service I don't tip for the sake of it. That's probably the English in me! There shouldn't be too much pressure within your hotel for tips but away from the hotel on trips or in nightclubs for example it's a different story. In restaurants 15% is considered the norm.

Some people have carefully calculated formulae's regarding tipping at their all inclusive hotels, such as a dollar every drink and $5 to start and finish their session. That to me seems a little too calculating, just give what you feel the service deserved.

One thing to remember is that travel agents will often describe an All Inclusive resort as "having tips included" in the price you pay. That is true to a certain extent - a tiny portion of your payment is separated into a tip fund and shared amongst the employees.

However, it is only a tiny amount and I often wonder how much of this is left when those in positions of power have had first pickings. Don't 'tip' to try and receive something the staff member is not allowed to give, like drinks you're not entitled to, or an upgraded room. The staff member could easily lose his job if discovered.

Some people like to bring items for the staff, such as toiletries for the maids, sports wear for the guys. English soccer shirts are particularly coveted. However, cash is what pays the electricity bill and puts food on the table. By all means give gifts but don't substitute them for cash.

As well as the bartenders, waiters, bellboys and maids at your hotel remember those who may not receive tips regularly, for example the gardeners who make the grounds look so nice, the maintenance man who fixed your air-con or the DJ who played your request.

In some places, however, particularly at some open bar nightclubs the game changes and you may not receive good service unless you tip up front. Many is the time I've seen a 'deaf' bar tender completely ignore requests for drinks while pointing at a tip bucket. Whenever we go to a club, which isn't often these days, rather than go to the bar and ask for drinks we always find a waiter that is serving tables. We'll give him a $10 tip when he has delivered our first round of drinks, that gets him hungry for more and will have him bringing you drinks all night. We don't tip every round but every so often we'll pay him another $5 or so.

A couple of final tip tips:

  • In restaurants and bars check to see if the tip has already been included on your bill.
  • It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers, unless they perform an extra service like helping with bags or multiple stops. The driver will have already built in a tip for himself when the price was negotiated.

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