One of the most valuable assets a luxury hotel has, the concierge is there to help make a guest's stay a happy and memorable one. Indeed, concierges are trained professionals who services run the gamut from the mundane (message handling) to the extraordinary (such as getting hard-to-find tickets to the latest Broadway show).
To learn more about the importance of a concierge, we sat down with Spencer H. Wadama, who is the General Manager of The Surrey Hotel, the tony and newly renovated boutique hotel located on Manhattan's upper east side. Spencer previously served as the general manager of the Ritz-Carlton in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt).
According to Wadama, The Surrey Hotel's staff of concierges, for example, regularly make special arrangements for their guests, often before the guest has even arrived at the hotel. "They give you an opportunity to experience a destination in a better, more authentic way," says Wadama. "They are a priceless amenity."
Ever wondered how much to tip a concierge for his or her services? Here what Wadama has to say about this subject in this Luxist Awards video.
Tipping housekeepers, bellmen, concierge staff and others in a luxury hotel is a topic even experienced travelers ask about. How should staff be tipped? How often should you tip them? How much should you tip?
Robin at AAA New England says "Housekeeping receives $3-$4 a day, only if you choose to tip. You should tip daily, because staff changes. Leave cash in a sealed envelope (most hotels offer stationery and envelopes in guest rooms), and write "for the chambermaid" on it. You may put the cash in the hand of whomever you're tipping. Tip the bellman about $2 for each bag, or more. Tip the concierge depending on how hard he worked for you. For example, if you want to have dinner in an exclusive restaurant and can't get the reservation yourself, tip the concierge $5 -$10 if they get you in..depending where you are, the money you leave may be very appreciated. When I was in Mexico five years ago, I left $10 with the housekeeper. She started to cry and hugged me so hard. Workers are paid really low wages, our tips are so great to them."
Part Merlin, part Houdini, how is possible for the concierge at your hotel to get you tickets to a sold-out show or a reservation at a restaurant that would have been utterly impossible for you to do so on your own?
One of the most valuable assets a fine hotel has, the concierge is there to help make a guest's stay a happy and memorable one. But have you ever been baffled by whether or not you are supposed to tip the concierge if he or she has done something special for you?
To find out these answers, we sat down with Spencer H. Wadama, who is the General Manager of The Surrey Hotel, the tony and newly renovated boutique hotel located on Manhattan's upper east side. Spencer previously served as the general manager of the Ritz-Carlton in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt). The Surrey Hotel's staff of concierges, for example, regularly make special arrangements for their guests, often before the guest has even arrived at the hotel.
According to Spencer, "The amount is really to your discretion, and what is the appropriate amount really depends on the service that was provided," he says. "It is very appropriate to tip a concierge if you had a special request that you knew was difficult to get access to."
In America, tipping is a way of saying "thank you", but tipping is not expected in all countries, such as in Japan, where tipping is not part of the culture.
The amount you tip should take into account the city where the hotel is located; for example a tip in New York should be higher than a tip in Cleveland, for example, to compensate for the difference in the cost of living.
When you approach a concierge, take a look at the lapel of his or her uniform. If you notice a pin that resembles a small set of gold keys, he or she is a member of an elite organization called Les Clefs d'Or, a French term that translates into "keys of gold". If that is the case, you can be assured that you are dealing with a seasoned professional. Curious about whether you should tip the housekeeping staff? Find out how to do so here.
Tips. Gratuities. Service Charges. It's the cost of getting great service, but how much do you tip the waiter, butler and housekeeping personnel each day of your cruise vacation?
When it comes to tipping on a cruise ship, the recommendations and requirements vary only slightly by cruise line. Norwegian cruise lines points out that guests are "not obliged to offer a gratuity for good service", but they do recommend tipping a service provider that's gone above and beyond the call of duty to meet your needs. Celebrity Cruise Lines takes a different approach to the cruise tipping process, automatically adding gratuities to all restaurant and stateroom services and encourages guests to add extra if they feel they received exceptional service.
Most cruise lines encourage passengers to tip for services per person, per day, but tips can be rolled into the service charge or fee you pay as part of your cruise package.
Suite Attendant: keeps your room clean and orderly, orders supplies and amenities, provides you with towels and fresh linens as needed, works with housekeeping staff and handles laundry and room service deliveries Recommended tip: $5.75
Often at spas and resorts, instead of having customers deal with tips a gratuity is built in. Easy for the customer and a little assurance for the practitioner, right? Well not in the case of Canyon Ranch, the luxury getaway in the Berkshires. As the Boston Globe reports, the resort has agreed to pay a whopping $14.75 million to around 600 massage therapists, hair stylists, waiters and other employees that worked at Canyon Ranch between April 2004 and October 2007 after a lawsuit accused Canyon Ranch of breaking a state law that prohibits management from taking tips reserved for service workers. Canyon Ranch has denied any wrongdoing in the settlement filed in Massachusetts this week, stating that service charge was "was never intended to be a significant part of the employees' compensation plan."
The suit said that not only did workers feel like they might lose their jobs if they asked to receive the tips but that guests were discouraged from giving extra gratuities. If a client still wanted to tip extra the worker couldn't accept the money directly but had to send the client to another area of the spa to complete the transaction. This isn't the first suit of this kind but it is one of the biggest payouts around.
Canyon Ranch has eliminated the 18 percent service charge instead charging a "resort amenities fee" that does not include tips. The spa still discourages tipping. Certainly resorts have the right to set up no tipping rules but in cases where the gratuity is added in it is natural to assume that the worker has received the tip just as they would have if you pressed the cash into their hands. Personally, while I can sometimes find the process of tipping to be awkward I would much rather have the control. I also tend to enjoy tipping, it allows me to visibly demonstrate my thanks for great service.
Forbes has answered a very interesting question pertaining to tipping. With all the luxury services that new hotels offer, there are many more people that you will come into contact with than just the porter and the maid. How do you know who to tip and - more importantly - how much to tip?
The first lesson is that some resorts are all-inclusive and will have a "resort fee" added to the bill (15-20% against the room rate) that is to be distributed as tips for the employees; no additional tipping is necessary here, and many employees will not accept them. If this is not the case at your hotel, employees who should be tipped include the concierge, doormen, drivers, pool attendant and those who offer special services, like masseurs. See the full guide for details on who gets a dollar, who gets 20% and what you should expect in return.
And don't forget the maid. Leave a few dollars a day, depending on the size of the room and the size of your mess.