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Now that Marriott Hotels are encouraging guests to leave tips for housekeepers by placing tip envelopes in the room, we thought it was a good idea to have our front desk guy, Aditya Rajaram offer some of his own, er, tips, on tipping in hotels.
The never-ending question of whether to tip, how much to tip, and who to tip at a hotel drives all guests a little crazy. In some parts of the world, it is frowned upon to give a tip and in others it is customary. In U.S. cities that are heavily unionized, well, you are pretty much booed if you don't.
Here are a few careful thoughts on tipping in the hospitality industry.
Hotel News / Tipping / Hotel Housekeeping / Marriott Hotels / Maria Shriver / The Envelope Please / → All Tags
When we spied a tip envelope for the housekeeping staff in our guest room at The Ace Hotel Los Angeles, we thought it was a genius idea. The envelope served as a both a gentle reminder to tip and as a designated spot to put the tip, saving us the trouble of worrying about where to tuck a couple of dollars so that the housekeeper would see it.
Now, it looks like Marriott International thinks tip envelopes are genius as well.
The hotel company has partnered up with Maria Shriver and her "A Woman's Nation" organization to put envelopes in 160,000 Marriott hotel rooms, across all brands from Ritz-Carlton to JW Marriott and Residence Inn. The envelope will list the name of the housekeeper along with this little note:
"Our caring room attendants enjoyed making your stay warm and comfortable. Please feel free to leave a gratuity to express your appreciation for their efforts."
We're behind this initiative 100 percent but we do realize it may cause some more anxiety amongst guests who aren't used to tipping the housekeeper, especially if they don't have any extra cash on them. While Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson says it's customary to tip $1 to $5 a night, we say anything you can hand over during your stay will be appreciated. Most housekeepers are only paid minimum wage and most of the time, they don't receive tips. (Hence this campaign.)
Of course, that leads to another argument that Marriott and other hotel companies should pay housekeepers more per hour, instead of relying on tips from guests but sadly, that won't change any time soon. (Our contributor, Will McGough, actually thinks the envelopes are tasteless and tacky because of that reason.) In the meantime, we expect tip envelopes to be found in more and more hotels, not just Marriott ones.
What do you think about tip envelopes--helpful or annoying? Sound off in comments below!
[Photo: Marriott Hotels]
When this writer checked into the 428-room Boston Seaport Hotel, one of the first things the clerk went out of her way to tell me was that there was no tipping at the hotel. I figured I'd heard her wrong, so I asked her to repeat it. She smiled. The craziest part is when she told me it's not a new thing - the hotel has had a no tipping policy since it opened in 1998.
Fifteen years ago, it put its then 260 employees through 35,000 hours of training on all aspects of guest service, from opening doors to room tidiness, and taught them to do it all without expecting a tip.
We've talked a lot about tipping on this site in the past, and there's always a debate about who should be tipped and for what. I found the no tipping policy at the Seaport to be extremely refreshing and impressive. Two reasons stand out in particular. 1) When receiving help from the staff, I didn't immediately feel like I owed them money and 2) I felt like the employees genuinely wanted to help me, and when it comes to the travel industry, that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when money is involved.
We don't want to get into another debate just yet about whether or not you should tip the housekeeper, but we've got a bone to pick with these "tip envelopes" and the accompanying notes that pop up in rooms from time to time. It's a page straight out of the cruise industry, and it absolutely reeks of a hotel that's got its priorities mixed up.
Regardless of how American businesses have been able to spin the idea of tipping into an expected offering to help supplement the salaries of the employees that they underpay, this contributor's opinion is that gratuity is something given to someone who has gone above and beyond their job description to make my experience better. In short, get these things out of my face, right now.
When staying at a hotel, it's common to tip the folks who work there for various services, such as the housekeepers, the bellhops and the concierges. But a credit card education website is now saying (randomly) not to forget the front desk workers this holiday season.
CreditDonkey.com has compiled a list of all the other people in your life that you need to leave a tip for including hotel, motel and resort desk clerks. CreditDonkey claims these employees make an annual wage of $21,960 in their gig and deserve a tip between $5 and $10 before you check-out, especially if you they've helped you out other than just checking you in and handing you a room key.
We have to agree with this sort of tip, not just for the holidays, but always (again, if they go above and beyond their duties.) So now, who else should we tip at hotels over the holidays? And we're talking about a few days at a hotel over Christmas, not just a one-night stand sometime the week before. Let us know who should go on the NICE list in comments below!
Of course, tipping the housekeepers, the bellhops, the concierges and the front desk can add up (not to mention the pressure to tip is high these days. Read the comments on this story for some advice). Perhaps consider some other gifts aside from cash that will be sure to delight. Otherwise, make sure you've got your dollar bills and fivers in place before checking out.
While we're on the topic of tipping today, we wanted to know what you thought of Gratuity Included Hotels, i.e. hotels where they automatically tack on gratuity to a food and beverage bill, spa treatment or other service.
Obviously, this is common in Europe (everywhere, not just at hotels) but here in America, it's still quite unusual or helpful/offensive, depending on where you stand on automatically tipping for service.
We encountered this recently at the Canyon Ranch Miami when we dined in their Canyon Ranch Grill and noticed that an 18 percent gratuity charge had been added. The same thing happened after we went to pay for our pedicure in the spa. Apparently this is standard for all Canyon Ranch hotels.
Hotel Bars / Manhattan Hotels / Hotel News / Tipping / Tips / → All Tags
The rooftop bar at Hotel Gansevoort.
UPDATE: In response to this story, the Gansevoort Hotel Group let us know that the Hotel Gansevoort does not include an automatic 20 percent tip on all beer, wine, and cocktails ordered, and has never done so. The Gansevoort Park Ave, however, had included a 20 percent gratuity on all bar tabs since opening in the summer. But, as of today, this automatic gratuity has been eliminated. Yippee! Moving forward, the only automatic gratuity charges at both hotels will for large parties and bottle service.
As you might have guessed from our frequent Hotel Cocktails and Hotel Bars coverage, we're fond of a tipple. But a tip? We prefer when that's left to our discretion. Unfortunately, as reported by the New York Post, we can't always get what we want. Many hotel bars in NYC are now charging mandatory tips on drinks tabs.
There's tons of hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica Delayed: We've spent a lot of time today talking about hotel openings and delays here so it's fitting we end the day with another. The Hotel Shangri-La was to re-open tomorrow after a long renovations process. However, the reservations line says the hotel will open at the end of October. Meanwhile, the website is only taking bookings for after November 12th. Either way, it ain't opening tomorrow.
More news briefs are after the jump.
Tipping. Yikes. While most of us know to regularly tip our bellmen and some of us routinely tip our housekeepers (and all of us should!), things start to get a bit dicey when it comes to room service.
See, in most hotels, gratuity is included on a room service order. But then when you open up your folio to sign off on your charges, you breeze past the line detailing the auto-gratuity that's been added...and you encounter it: the additional gratuity line before the total.
From Post Secret. Also see this video for more reasons on why it might be a good idea to get on hotel housekeeping's good side. So give them a tip or two. Well, you know...not the ones that are actually cleaning the toilet with your SonicCare.
Colin Cowie / Tips / Hotel Books / Tipping / → All Tags
Colin Cowie's main jobs are as a celebrity wedding designer and a luxe party planner but he's also the proprietor behind the CBar in Greece inside the Belvedere Hotel so he knows a few things about the hospitality business.
We got a copy of his book Colin Cowie Chic: The Guide to Life As It Should Be and we are a little tickled to see a section on travel and staying hotels.
Colin's #1 thing as soon as he's checked into his hotel? Change into exercise clothes for a quick workout that includes some push-ups, sit-ups and stretches.
If he has more time, he'll do some cardio. His reasoning is valid--after being on an airplane for a while you want to get those vital organs jump-started.
Our first thing we do when we check into a hotel? Check the internet connection. God, we're such geeks!