My first trip to Cuba is getting near so I have been reading through this forum for any information that I can get. I read that the maids make quite a lot of money compared to the other workers on the resorts. I imagine this is due to the tips that are left by the tourists. We always tip and have left gift bags on our previous trips to the DR, we will do the same in Cuba. I have purchased lipsticks, deodorants etc. for the ladies but now think that maybe I would have done better with something that is not easy for them to get there. Any idea on what that may be? ??? I read also that there is no point buying Dollar Store items in one message but in another it says to pick up some wisks at the Dollar Store for the man who cooks the eggs. I am at a lost.
Well the whisk was a gift I gave - but I am a repeat guest and knew the character I was giving it to. I never anticipated that others would be so excited ;D and was happy that I had brought a couple.
The maids do remarkably well ($) and as far as employed Cubans rank they are at the top of the ladder.
Gifts that you can offer that are more difficult to obtain, will vary from area to area and time of year, and circumstances. There was a time when soap was difficult. I understand that the government issued toothpaste is rather bland - so a mint or tea-tree toothpaste might be a nice change. OTC drugs are still winners - especially headache meds and baby stuff. kitchen gloves are lightweight and usable by many. panty hose, disposable razors and nice smelling soap are all in need. …just a few suggestions. But do remember that you are not in Canada any more and if you want to tip - do so remembering that a monthly salary there is $12 - $15 CUC so do the math - if all the maids rooms gave her a dollar a day -and many have 15 + rooms each day they are doubling the salary of others they work with … just something to keep in mind. And they do not share or pool with the other workers (at least any of the resorts we have been to) at the resort. Just information so you are a bit more knowledgeable. …
I also noticed that most of the gifts tourists bring ,are for the ladies .Although this is great,next time I will take more stuff for the male staff …razors,shaving cream,deodorants etc.
On my last trip I met many people from the night entertainment group.I think these people get the least tips (if any) .On my last day I left my shampoo,toothpaste,sunscreen etc with them.They really appreciated .
Also children shoes,clothes are always needed.
Just some ideas.I am sure you will come up with other.
Have fun and enjoy Cuba and it’s people :D.
If you see your doctor before the trip (perhaps to get Twinrix or a rx for your pills), politely ask for some samples. My doc is wonderful and she gives me liquid baby Tylenol, and packets adult Tylenol. Another great gift is band-aids (“Curitas”). I buy the mixed sizes. Also, tubes of polysporin - a scratch in a tropical country can get ugly pretty quickly. Parents will love these items to protect their childrens’ health.
I don’t really know what the wages are, but I have often heard that a typical wage is around 15 CUC for a resort worker. I just returned from Cuba and did tip generously on the resort as well as bring gifts (the usual lipstick, nail polish, chocolates, a few toys, etc.). The gifts seemed to be appreciated but I did notice that deoderant, nail polish and lipstick were readily available in the shops in Guardalavaca and at reasonable prices (eg. 1 CUC). Although I realize that 1 CUC is expensive when a person is paid only 15 CUC per month, I now know that certain items are available, especially to those who are in a position to earn tips, so I won’t be bringing these items with me on future trips. The toys seemed to be hit with the housekeeping staff who had children. Also a gardener seemed really pleased to be given a new duffle bag (with a hat inside). There was definitely more food items and personal goods to be purchased in the local shops, though, so I think I will be much more selective about gifts to bring in the future and try to bring items that are not readily available. My gut feeling is that any of the resort workers would have appreciated the one duffle bag that I had brought as a gift. I saw many of the workers walking off the resort after their shift ended and most of them carried their belongings in a plastic (grocery) bag. I had purchased the small duffle bag at Liquation World during a blug tag sale and ended up paying only $2.00 for it. It was really quite nice and folded up nicely inside my suitcase. One thing that I did notice is that the wait-staff in the buffets all wore different types of footwear (although their uniforms were the same). Some of their shoes looked like cheap ones and were well-worn. I expect good footwear would be really appreciated as gifts. Others have suggested taking OTC medications and I’m sure that is a good suggestion as those types of items were not readily available in the little shops. As far as bringing items for families away from the resorts, I think almost anything would be appreciated (practical and useful items, not luxury items). Although I read about the damage done by the hurricanes, I was shocked to see the number of homes still missing a roof or part of the roof (or covered by plastic only). It was a wake-up call for me!