If you read our last article about drink and restaurant tipping in Maui, then you already know that our little island adheres to the tipping conventions of the mainland United States. If you come from a country where tipping is not common, then the tipping rules in Maui (and throughout the United States) may seem like its own bizarre ritual. We know that tipping can seem kind of complicated, but it’s important to realize that many employers pay their employees less, because they expect those employees to earn tips.
In our last article, we looked at how to tip at restaurants and bars. Your waiters and bartenders are not the only ones who depend on tips to earn a living. Many different people in the service sector also make a large portion of their income from tips. As a visitor to Hawaii, you will most likely be dealing with hotel staff and tour guides. Don’t accidentally ruin someone’s day or earn a dirty look behind your back by not realizing when a tip is expected. Here are some useful tipping guidelines.
Who to Tip
If you are staying at a hotel, it is generally appreciated if you tip anyone who helps carry your bags. This includes the doorman who helps unload and load your luggage and well as the bellhops who take your luggage to your room. If you would prefer not to tip, you can always unload and carry your own luggage (which is pretty easy these days, since most suitcases have wheels).
It’s also polite to tip a valet who parks your car and brings it up to you when you are ready to see the town, as well as the server who delivers room service. If your hotel offers any special services, like an in-room massage or a personal training session, these professionals also need to be tipped. Many non-Americans don’t realize that it is also a common practice to tip a concierge who books a trip or gets show/sports tickets for you.
Finally, it’s expected to leave a small tip in your room each night or at the end of your trip for the hardworking maids who change your sheets and towels and generally pick up after you!
Who Not to Tip
You do not need to tip a doorman just for opening the hotel door or a concierge who answers questions and shows you a route. Only tip the concierge if he or she helps book a trip for you. You also don’t need to tip the front desk staff.
How Much to Tip
This probably seems like a lot of tipping! Fortunately, the tips tend to be small. One or two dollars will do it for the bellhop and doorman who help you with your luggage as well as the room service server. Five to $10 is appropriate for a concierge unless he or she went far above and beyond for you. If you get a massage or other service in the hotel, typically a tip of 10% to 20% of the cost of the service will be appreciated depending on how well the professional did.
Finally, $3 – $5 a night to the cleaning staff is a nice thank you for their work. Make sure it is clear that this is a tip for the cleaning staff, so they don’t think it’s just a few bills you left lying out.
The knowledge, skill, and temperament of your tour guide can make or break your adventure, whether your take a bus tour up Mt. Haleakala, take flying lessons, go scuba diving, or snorkel with the manta rays. It’s hard being a tour guide. These men and women have to keep you entertained, answer your questions, keep you safe, and make sure you are having a good time. They all rely on tips as a big portion of their income, so it’s important that you reward tour guides with a tip if they helped you make some incredible memories.
Who to Tip
If you take any sort of paid guided trip or adventure or take lessons of any kind, tipping your tour guide or instructor is highly appreciated. If you join a free tour, then this is likely a service sponsored either by the Island, your hotel, or some other third party, and tips are probably not expected, though you may want to ask to be sure.
You do not have to tip people who rent you equipment if you are taking a self-guided tour or going on an adventure on your own.
How Much to Tip
As with hotel service providers, tipping 10% to 20% of the cost of the excursion is a good rule of thumb. If the tour guide was only average, you can get away with a 10% tip, which usually indicates that you weren’t very satisfied. If the tour guide did well, then a 15% tip is completely reasonable. For a truly outstanding tour guide who had you laughing until you were snorting or who opened your eyes to Maui (you know the ones), a 20% might be an order!
Tipping can really add up after a while! If you want to save some of your dollars, then steer clear of a hotel and rent a vacation condo from Ali’i Resorts instead.