When you are on vacation it is sometimes hard to figure out how to give tips. Who should you tip? When and how much should you tip? These are typically the questions that I hear from tourists traveling to Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic.
People who work in tourism in Punta Cana often receive a relatively small basic salary, which is supplemented with tips and commissions for sales (eg excursions). These hardworking people are used to receiving and often expect to receive a tip for their services.
If you want to be fully prepared to give tips from the moment you arrive to Punta Cana, it would be a good idea to make sure you have plenty of small USD bills. When you have arrived in Punta Cana, you can always exchange larger USD bills to smaller bills or withdraw money in the local currency (ie Dominican Pesos) from any ATM. One USD is approximately 40 Dominican Pesos.
Arriving at the airport:
It all begins when you arrive at the airport in Punta Cana. You will be greeted by friendly porters / bellboys who are ready to help you locate and carry your luggage from the baggage claim to the car or bus that will take you to your resort. The porter expects to receive USD 1 per suitcase, or a bit more if your luggage is very heavy or if you have lots of it.
At the resort:
When you arrive at the resort, you may tip the driver if you feel that he has been driving well, has been friendly and you generally feel satisfied with his services. Normally, you should tip 10-15% of the price for the trip, which in most cases would be approx. USD 3-5 if your resort were located in Punta Cana or Bávaro (within 10-30 minutes from the airport).
When you arrive at the resort, a bellboy, who will assist you with your luggage, will greet you. You may tip him USD 1 per suitcase if he brings your luggage to your room.
It is always a good idea to tip the maid, who cleans your room, either at the beginning of your vacation or during. Normally, you should tip the maid about USD 2 per day and leave the money on the bed where she is sure to find it.
Sometime during your vacation in Punta Cana, you will most likely need the assistance of the concierge – eg to make dinner reservations. A tip of about USD 5-10 for his / her assistance will go a long way, and you may experience that a table at the restaurant, which was originally full, is now available for you at the hour you desire. You may also experience that something, which was completely impossible for you to obtain all of a sudden, becomes "no problemo".
Waiters and bartenders will for sure appreciate your tip. You can either leave a larger tip of approx. USD 10-20 at the beginning of your vacation (then they will surely never forget you) or smaller tips throughout your vacation (eg USD 1-2 every time you get great service).
On an excursion or at the golf course :
If you are going on an excursion during your vacation in Punta Cana, it is recommendable that you bring money for tips to the tour guide. He / she will typically share the tips with the driver and / or other staff on the excursion. If you have had a good time, you can easily leave USD 2-3 on a half-day excursion and USD 5 on a full day excursion. If you have gone on a private excursion with a private driver or tour guide, you should leave a larger tip, eg USD 10.
If you are a golfer and are going to play one of the courses in Punta Cana or Casa de Campo where caddies are mandatory (Punta Espada, Corales or Teeth of the Dog), you must typically pay a caddie fee of USD 25-30 for the caddie. Normally you will need to have one caddie per golf cart with 2 persons. Apart from the caddie fee, a tip of USD 15-20 per person is expected, depending on how satisfied you have been with the caddie or how well you have played … and how great your mood is after the round.
If someone cleans your golf clubs and / or shoes after the round, you should tip this person USD 3-5.
At the local restaurant:
If you decide to go out to eat at one of the local restaurants in Punta Cana, you should be aware that there is usually already a 10% tip included in your bill (by law). In most places, you are expected to leave an additional tip of 5-10% of the amount on your bill if you have been satisfied with the food and service.
It may seem as if you will hardly be able to walk around without throwing money and tips left and right. Do not despair – if everything else fails and you should be in doubt then follow your mood. If you have been happy with the service given to you, and if you do not have anything to complain about, then the best way of showing your appreciation is by leaving a tip for the people who have taken care of you.