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Tipping Maids - Cash or Products?

I’ve been to several Cuban resorts and I’ve always wondered what the service staff really want/need: a couple of pesos daily or products we bring from home such as dollar store stuff, hygiene stuff or clothing…etc? Although specifically I’m wondering about the room service staff, this question also goes for waitress and bar staff.

I’m sure a lot of people will reply with what they have done or think is best but I’d really like to hear from someone who has first hand knowledge from the Cuban people.

The choice is yours :slight_smile:

The maids are … believe it or not some of the wealthiest workers in Cuba. What they get and do not need - they sell, they are not ‘charity central’. They do not distribute without income for the items you share with them.

:frowning: It is strange - we use to be very giving to the staff and chambermaids over the past but find ourselves giving more to organized charity now - The Dubois Foundation, Not just tourists …etc… and a few selective gifts to friends.

I think next time we might take down some kitchen gloves for the maids and other work related items and leave a few pecos, but gone are the days I take the time to make nice care packages. I use to get a face-cloth and wrap a few items (soap, tooth paste, toothbrush, hair clips) with a nice note - still is a nice thought but - the climate has changed ~ sad to say~ over our past 3 years. Now we are actually getting requests for items with logos and vanity things and some rather expensive items. sorta’ alters the mood for us as it is nice to be caring not nice to feel used. (maybe to harsh a word - but I close to that) Not all Cubans - but more and more the ones at the resorts that have people giving them tips and items for years - they just seem to be getting more selective and dare I say greedy

If you do a search, you’ll find LOTS of discussions on this topic!

Here’s my two-cents worth.

About dollar store products: Cubans have easy access to cheap, made-in-China products, so unless it is really something you would buy for yourself, don’t bother with cheap stuff (just my opinion :wink: !).

Many products are just no easily available for purchase in Cuba, such as Tempra for babies, multivitamins for children and seniors, over-the-counter medicine such as Ibuprofen, tampons and pads for ladies, quality disposable razors for men.

Another idea: you’ll never go wrong with items for babies and kids, such as gently-used clothing and quality shoes and sandals.

That being said, pesos are always welcome, for sure, so just do what you feel most comfortable with!

I hear you Canuks - a recent post on the Cayo Largo forum mentioned a request for a cell phone… and I will write here what I wrote there: I will NOT accomodate any request for a luxury product, as I am not Santa Claus! In 18 trips to Cuba, I’ve never been sollicited for something like that, but if I were, my answer would be a polite but firm “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that”. But I will happily bring medicine or vitamins, especially for kids and seniors, and regularly leave behind my son’s summer clothing.

Despite already taking some items for tipping, I asked our daily service staff what she would prefer for tips. She ultimately said $ but was very appreciative of the gifts she received. She did mention that they do trade “tips” with other staff members, if they are in receipt of something they really wouldn’t use.

I am sure whatever/however you decide to tip, it will be appreciated.
:slight_smile:

After we’ve experienced some of the statements above ourselves, we’re also more selective on what we buy to give out there.

I’ve brought small tools and such for the gardeners (they also love baseball hats, which in my job I get by the dozen) and this time I’ll be bringing down nails and screws.

The Bride also is more selective with products of a more “feminine” nature to pass out.

We will also always reward good service or an obvious hard worker with a Peso or 2, and splendid week long service earns a $ 10 or $20 note. We also realize that often, the money is useless if they can’t buy the goods we bring.

And again, yes, to agree with someone above, we don’t spend $40 or more at the Dollar Store to buy crap to give out.

wow - “$10 - $20 note” no wonder they are getting choosy. … you more than doubled their salary for the month with a tip like that. It maybe nothing to us … but remember you are in their country to them that is 1/12th (+) their yearly salary. I buy lottery tickets hoping for a treat like that.

Very well stated, Canuks.

Some of the maid’s homes in Varadero are better stocked with goods than their neighbourhood tienda (corner store.)

Continuing to enrich people who are already sitting at the top of the food chain seems ludicrous to me, especially when there are other easily accessible channels that will distribute your much appreciated generosity to the truly needy…

I am like you, Canuks. This time I am just bringing down some ibuprofen, vitamins, and feminine hygiene products plus any summer clothes that we happen to have in our Sally Ann bag at the time. That and a couple of pesos here and there is, I think, more than enough to give to individuals who are relatively well off.

Hi Domeco,

CUCs are perfectly adequate for tips. :slight_smile:

As a forum member with firsthand knowledge working with Cuban people, I would strongly recommend that any monies that you intend to put towards bringing ‘stuff’ to hotel staff be redirected to any one of the organizations in Canada and/or in Cuba that have direct contacts. A list of some contacts can be found at

http://debbiesreviews.proboards88.com/index.cgi?board=Cuba&action=display&thread=6549

As well, the Dubois Charitable Foundation has an excellent reputation. Their contact information can be found at

http://www.duboischaritablefoundation.com/

Cubans who have access to the tourism industry are not as ‘needy’ as perceived, despite the stories of woe that are perpetuated. :’( Cubans who live outside the realm of tourism often do need support, and that support is not dollar-store ‘stuff’.

Your generosity will be greatly appreciated for sure.

Enjoy your vacation!

canuks and martian, I see what you are saying and agree with your point.

If I stay in hotels in Canada, which i do very seldom, I would leave a $5 tip for the maid. When we park and fly we usually offer $5 tip to the shuttle driver for loading and unloading our bags. I would say that both of those are somewhere in the vicinity of 50% of their hourly wage (just to give an example). That would mean I am to leave 10 cents (.10 CUC) to the chambermaid and it should suffice. Sorry but I just don’t think I can do that. ??? On the other hand maybe leaving $5 CUC for the week to the maid should be plenty.

We usually leave a little gift each day, but like a lot of you have noticed that it almost seems expected by them. Do the maids really receive a tip or gift from every room? Do some people go all week without tipping or would offer $3 to $5 CUC for the week?

I’m just looking for some opinions here as well :-/. Frankly I’m pretty tired of bringing bags full of stuff and if its not being appreciated and in effect doing more harm then good to the societal hierarchy, then I won’t bother, as it is cumbersome. For our next trip down I will try going with only select few gifts for people I know, (if I go to a resort I have already visited), and in lieu of other gifts will make a donation to the Dubious Foundation. At least then I know it is being put to good use and serving those that need it. :smiley:

Don’t get me wrong folks, we don’t pass those out like they’re tissues or something, it has to be exemplary service.

As a normal, like I said, the maid will get a peso or 2 a day and I’ll always tip the bartender 0.25 for every 2 drinks I get, be they coffee, rum punch or just water. As for the gardeners, I think they may have the hardest jobs out there and are rewarded least of all (from what I’ve seen, anyway). At one place as an example, there was a tree right in front of our room that was shedding someleaves, etc, and each day this gardener would come by and sweep it off. A few days he came by with a coconut for my wife, with the top trimmed ready for add the rum to make what I call “Cuban Rocket Fuel”. I always had a beer for him in the fridge, I gave him a few hats, a bunch or Gillette disposable razors with shaving cream and a couple or “flat blade” screwdrivers. AND he got a $20 at the end of the week.

I agree the maids and bartenders are amongst the best off in the country, but I still enjoy rewarding special service with special gifts.

I think it depends on where in Cuba you are vacationing. I have noticed regional differences and apparent differences in the “wealth” of the staff. (also vast differences in the level of appreciation of gifts!) In some areas I gather certain products are difficult to come by…in others, not so much. Money is great…always appreciated…but you know when people want to buy items from you that such items must be hard to obtain (and I’m talking genuine buying here, not someone who hopes you will just give something to them). Some of the items I have found that are appreciated include backpacks, crocs or other shoes, clothing (especially kids clothing), crank flashlights…and one luxury item…Chocolate! Also insulated mugs (bubbas, etc.)

Yes, the resort workers have “hit the jackpot” and receive more than most others in Cuba. However, if you are staying at a resort and someone does you a service that you consider to be above and beyond the call of duty, I see nothing wrong with rewarding that effort in some way other than just handing out cash. If you have an appropriate item (varies with the recipient) it’s nice to do something special for someone who did something to make your vacation great.

Charitable donations are a different animal and require some preparation so that you can get them into the right hands. Just walking, biking or taking a scooter to the nearest town and doling things out doesn’t cut it, as far as I am concerned. Apart from anything else, anyone you are likely to encounter within easy reach of your resort is de facto “working” in the tourist industry…by providing friendly access to their home, possibly a meal or coffee, being “friendly”, chatting to tourists about the poverty in Cuba, etc. etc. For many, this is their “job”, and they make a good living at it! Possibly a better one for less effort than many resort employees. JMHO. :wink:

p.s. don’t “dis” the dollar store. I find bargains there for myself!! (often the exact same stuff I see elsewhere for more money)

As far as Im concerned if someone is cleaning up after me ect… Im tipping them… We usually tip 1 cuc a day each and toothbrushes hair stuff ect each day as well… We always come back at night to a exceptionally clean room and thats our way of thanking them!!!

[quote=@ewka] Do the maids really receive a tip or gift from every room? Do some people go all week without tipping?
[/quote]

No, maids do not receive a tip or a gift from every room.

Yes, many clients go all week without tipping anyone at all.

[quote=@annem]
No, maids do not receive a tip or a gift from every room.

Yes, many clients go all week without tipping anyone at all.[/quote]

One of the reasons for this is because many vacationers to Cuba come from countries where a VAT (Value added tax) is automatically included on their restaurant or hotel bill so extra tipping is not the norm. In many european countries, the VAT is 16% or higher!- regardless of service being good, bad or indifferent!

Over the years, we too have become much more selective in what kinds of gift items we bring to Cuba and who we give them to. Our experience most recently of an employee very familiar to us deciding to ignore us completely because we had not brought a huge “goodie bag” for him this time was an eye opener. Talk about being spoiled!!! We just moved over to a different table.

Cash works well for us and saves the grief of overweight charges on our checked luggage.

If I stay in hotels in Canada, which i do very seldom, I would leave a $5 tip for the maid. When we park and fly we usually offer $5 tip to the shuttle driver for loading and unloading our bags. I would say that both of those are somewhere in the vicinity of 50% of their hourly wage (just to give an example). That would mean I am to leave 10 cents (.10 CUC) to the chambermaid and it should suffice. Sorry but I just don’t think I can do that. ??? On the other hand maybe leaving $5 CUC for the week to the maid should be plenty.

ewka… of course the .10 CUC would be crazy, and the 5 CUC (in my opinion) is perfectly reasonable…

I tip the same way on vacation as I do at home, only for good service. I don’t care about the unwritten law about tipping, for me it’s only done when good/great service is done.

I do give away things when I go down south, but not to take the place of a tip. To those I think can use it, it doesn’t always work out !

I think 5 CUC at the end of the week for the maid if she has done a good/great job is fair :wink:

[quote=@rfint]
I think 5 CUC at the end of the week for the maid if she has done a good/great job is fair ;)[/quote]There is a practical problem to tipping in one shot at the end of the week…the maid you intend to reward may very well be on her day off. (in the case of Cayo Largo, she may be on her 10 days off!) I prefer daily smaller offerings…

Wow… now I feel a little guilty over the “dollar store crap” we’ve got packed to go down. Seems we’ve read in several threads that this was considered perfectly acceptable.
That said, we do have 1/2 doz ball caps, 1/2 doz work gloves, a bunch of sewing items, feminine items, first aid kit stuff, small tools, etc. etc.
Considering the area we’re going to this time around, we will be making a concerted effort to get these off the resort as much as possible.