Tips on Tipping in Manzanillo
Manzanillo is a resort town, and like any other resort
town, people flock to gain employment here.
Those that do are paid very small salaries. In fact, the average daily
wage in Colima is under $5 U.S. That is daily--not hourly, and the average
employee must work a full 8 hours for that small sum. Everyone who is in some
type of service industry depends on tips for the
major part of their income.
you should tip as you do in the
U.S., letting the size of your
pocketbook and the quality of service set your tipping guidelines.
“Tip-dependent” workers include waiters, bellboys, maids, diving and
snorkeling guides, other tour guides, boat
crews, masseuses, beauty salon operators, supermarket grocery baggers, bathroom
attendants, airport luggage attendants, and gas station attendants.
Even though you are
told that tips are included at your “all-inclusive” hotel, don’t think
that the hotel gives the employees much. Tip them, too, and start tipping on the
first day of your stay. You'll be amazed at how much better you're taken care
for good service. Ten to fifteen percent is customary; I lean toward 15% or more
because I know what wages are, and your tip can mean a decent meal instead of
tortillas and beans. In the case of taxi
drivers, a tip is included in the price. If a taxi offers to wait for you while
you shop, expect to pay him extra. If you hire a taxi for the day, a tip can be
added to the agreed-upon price.
You should always have loose
change and low denomination bills with you in order to make the transaction
effortless. Taxi drivers will never have change. Bus drivers generally do, but
not for large bills. Whenever you shop, save your change. It will come in handy
for all the tipping you should be doing.
are some basic guidelines for
tipping in Mexico.
Restaurants: The normal tip amount is
10-15% of the
bill. 20% for an upscale restaurant with excellent service. Sometimes there is a national value added tax (IVA) of 15% included on all
restaurant bills. This is not the tip, this is a federal tax. Make
sure you check the bill carefully for this 15%. Also do your own arithmetic
and add the bill up yourself. Many times there are mistakes. Be sure and
check to see if the restaurant has added on a tip. Some do if they think
they can get away with it. Many people
leave a tip equal to the IVA, 15%, or leave 10% of the total bill that has
the IVA tax included. Not all restaurants pay the waiters in the same way.
Some restaurants pool all the tip money and divide it equally between
waiter, bartender, and kitchen staff. Others allow each waiter to keep his
individual tip, and he has to pay a percentage to the bartender and kitchen
staff. If you pay with a credit cfard and add the tip to the charge, the
waiter will be charged a 4% bank charge of the tip amount. Pay the tip in
cash, if you can. The waiter will get more.
- Bellhops and luggage handlers: $1-2
- Concierge: $2 dollars or the equivalent if they do something for you (e.g.,
book a table at a local restaurant); more if they undertake some particular
research (e.g., found you a local tour operator, car rental agency, or
chauffeur). If you don't speak Spanish, remember that they will also be acting
as translators for you and you should take this into account with your tip.
Hotel maids & Servi-bar
attendants: $2-5 dollars per day, depending on how many people she is
cleaning after and how messy you leave your room. It's best to tip daily
because you may not have the same maid for the entire week of your vacation.
Leave the tip on the pillow, and she will know it is for her. If you are regularly
needing your Servi-bar restocked, leave a tip in the fridge. That way the
attendant will know it is for him. $1-2 dollars/day is customary.
- Taxis: Depends upon the city, type of taxi (meter or
negotiated price). In Manzanillo, the taxis are not metered but the prices
vary. Though drivers are required to keep a certified copy of the official
"tarifas" (tariffs) with them, you can ask to see it, but not all
of the taxis have the official one. Many hotels also have prices posted at
or near the taxi stand. This should be your guideline. Taxis pay a special
fee (depending on location), and must pick up only at that location. They
can, however, drop off passengers at any location. Oftentimes taxis on the
way back to their "sitio" or designated taxi stand will pull over
on the side of the road to pick up a fare. This is legal, and if you flag
down one of these taxis, you will probably get a better rate than the
official stand at the hotel.
can be very reasonable, as long as you ask the price BEFORE you get in. You
should be able to get almost anywhere in Manzanillo (except for Vida del Mar
and L’Recif Restaurant) for 70-100 pesos. However, some hotel taxis charge
a premium rate because they’ve paid a higher union fee to sit in front of
the hotel. For example, if you take a taxi from the Hotel Tesoro to the Hoyo
19 restaurant (about 8 blocks), the fee is 40 pesos. If you walk out to the
street and hail a taxi, or go up the hill to the employees’ entrance, the
taxi fee is about 20 pesos.
You do not tip taxi drivers for their regular service. It is
included in the "tarifa."
Make sure you have small change. Taxis will not carry change so they can
If you ask the price before you get in, also ask if they have change
for whatever bill you plan to give them. If not, they’ll stop along the
way at a taxi stand to make change. Do not pay in American dollars.
several of you are going to the same place, share the taxi. They also have
vans for groups of up to eight people. By law, cars can carry up to 5
passengers. The rates are the same for one or five.
you need a restaurant recommendation, do not ask a taxi driver. He’ll take
you to his uncle’s place, or a spot where he gets a commission for
bringing you there. Restaurants usually close one day a week, particularly
on Sundays and Mondays. Ask your hotel to call and confirm that the
restaurant is open. The taxi driver will take you there even if he knows it
is closed, just so he can take you somewhere else and collect a double fee.
Don’t let your taxi driver take you to any place other than the one
you want to go. Sometimes the driver will tell you of a “better”
restaurant, but that only means it’s better for him and his pocketbook. If
this happens, get his “sitio”
(site or location) and taxi number, and report him to the hotel or
restaurant. You should always get the number of the taxi, no matter what.
You wouldn’t believe how many cameras, wallets, purses, cellular phones,
sunglasses and other stuff have been left in taxis. If you don’t get the sitio
and taxi number, say adios to your
can also hire a personal taxi for the day. Tell the driver where you want to
go and negotiate the price. If you really don’t want to drive, find a
driver you like, and go exploring, with this book as your guide, of course.
The going rate is between $50-80/day, depending on where you want to go.
attendants: $5- 10 pesos depending on the
level of service. Fill only, 3-5 pesos, check fluid levels and wash window
- Bars: $10-15% of the total bill.
- Valet parking: $20-50 pesos
- Masseuse: 10-15% of the price for a
massage. A massage is usually one hour, and costs range from $40-70 USD. It
is a service industry, just like the rest, and if you liked it, don't forget
- Grocery store baggers - $5
pesos. Remember the baggers in the supermarkets (Soriana, Wal-Mart and
Comerical Mexicana), if they are children, must earn a high grade point
average before they are considered for the job. They can only work before or
after school. (Manzanillo has two shifts for all grades.) If you take
notice, some of the baggers are elderly. Many people who can no longer work
and are not part of Mexico's social security system choose to work at this
kind of job. Give them a hand, not a handout.
- Tour Guides: 10-15% of the cost of the
tour. This means whether you go on an ATV tour, horseback riding, city tour,
or hire a tour guide for the day, if you feel they've done a good job, and
are knowledgeable, by all means tip. If you feel like you're part of a herd
of cattle, and receive little or no special attention, then tip accordingly.
One way to judge whether a guide is knowledgeable is to ask a question. Many
guides are not trained as such, and haven't even bothered to study the area,
and most don't even come from here. If you feel you're just getting a driver,
and not a tour guide, get the e-mail of the tour company and write them .
They can never improve if they don't know about the quality of service their
guide gives on a tour.
Dive and Snorkeling guides: Many of
these people are trained professionals with courses in rescue, emergency
first aid, and more. Some are certified divemasters and instructors, and
have had years of training to do their job. If you're not sure about the
credentials of the person conducting the dive or snorkel, ask.
Of all the
industries that you should be tipping, this is the most important one because
your life can depend on the guide in the boat. $15-20% is considered a good
tip. Your guide should encourage reef conservation and be ecologically
correct. A guide who allows people to stand on the coral or on the
shipwreck, or lets you take souvenirs, such as living coral, deserves no tip
at all. During your excursion, you should feel safe and well taken care of.
Your guide should be knowledgeable about the ocean and the life, as well as
be able to identify the underwater creatures. Under no circumstances should
he ever remove a puffer fish (balloonfish) from the water so you can see the
animal puff up! Once the guide return the animal to the water, he dies
because of the guide's thoughtless behavior. If you're guide isn't
"green," report him to the agency by e-mail. The department of
tourism is also a good place to complain for any and all tourist guides and
agencies you feel have done you a disservice.
Oftentimes the guide is asked to lunch afterward
at a restaurant on the beach. If you invite your guide to join you, don't
figure he's had his tip by eating lunch with you. Though he will usually
join you to be polite, there are still duties awaiting him after you leave,
such as washing the equipment you used. And remember, he has a family
at home to feed, too.
Boat Captains: Usually
5-10% of the
cost of the trip, or more if you are deep sea fishing and your captain works
really hard for you. In the case of dive or snorkeling boat captains,
$50-100 pesos is good if you feel he did a good job. In the case of a dive boat, the
captain's job is to follow the divers so the boat will be right there as the
divers begin to surface. In the case of snorkeling, the captain should have
the ladder ready for you, and if you need assistance to get in and out of
the boat, he should be ready to help.
Spas: For personal services at Resort Spas,
10-15% of the value of the service (e.g., a massage) is normal.
- Villas & Staff: A new type of tourist is
coming to Manzanillo. They are electing to rent a private
house or condo. Some villas provide daily maid service, a chef who fixes 2
or 3 meals a day, and/or a gardener/house manager/driver/bartender.
- Depending on the staff, the services they provide, the
price you paid, it is recommended that you tip 10-15%. The staff usually
divides it up.
- Most rentals provide a flyer with recommendations, but
if, not, tip them well. With larger properties, the staff may be live in, so
10% should be okay, since room and board are included along with a salary.
In other cases, where a maid may have to arrive by walking or bus, leave a
bigger amount at the end of your stay.
- Toilets / Restrooms:
(restrooms) are on or near the beach, or at gas stations, or even at special
events, such as rodeos (charreadas), fairgrounds (Fiestas de Mayo), and if you find one, it may not be very pretty!
Some public toilets now make a small charge for entry (average is 3 pesos), and you'll find these are
usually clean and tidy. If one of these is not available, go to a restaurant,
bar (even if you're not eating or drinking at it) or department store if there's
one nearby. You may well find an attendant
looking after the place, making sure it's clean tidy. At the sinks,
you might see a small box, sometimes with a piece of cloth inside (and usually a
coin or three on it).. 2-5 pesos tip,
commensurate with the class of establishment, is sufficient. If you are eating
at a beachside restaurant (called a ramada), the restrooms are free,
even though there might be an attendant.
If you're having drinks and/or a meal at a restaurant and it has a
vocalist, if you see a
in front of him, please tip. $100-200 pesos is considered good, and if he
sings your favorite song, let him know you appreciate it. Most entertainers
work for very low wages, and like everyone else, need their tips. While you
may offer to buy him a drink, you should not do so in lieu of a tip.
If you are visited at your table by a group (usually a trio) that is not
part of the restaurant's entertainment, they will charge per song, usually
$50 pesos. Tipping in this instance is optional.
At other times, a man will start singing on a bus, or at a beachside
restaurant at the top of his lungs, most likely off-key. He is not part of
the restaurant, and
essentially he is begging. Whether you choose to tip him NOT to play or tip
him for his unsolicited song or songs, it's is up to you.
Angeles Verdes: The "Green
Angels", are government trucks that are painted green and travel along Mexico's
interstate highways helping people who have broken down. Their help is free, but
they will charge you for parts and fuel if your car needs it. Be sure to tip the
attendant; the amount is discretionary, and should relate to how much help they
were in a particular circumstance (e.g. more at night) and on how much work they
have done for you. The author has used them frequently over the last 21 years in
Mexico, and I've found them to be extremely helpful.
Police: This tip concerns being broken down, and a
policeman helps you. I've had them change my tire, get water for my car, and
give me a jump start, among other things. I've willingly paid $200 pesos for a
policeman to change my tire in the middle of nowhere. This is not a bribe, but
you are helping a good Samaritan who just happens to be a cop. Oftentimes, I
have had to force them to take the money.
In Mexico, not only is it customary, it is expected and appreciated
to tip in return
for good service.
Even fringe services like someone at a taxi rank opening the door for you
(and perhaps putting your suitcases in the car's trunk) should receive a small tip
(just 1 or 2 pesos will suffice in these cases).
"What should I tip?" is perhaps one of the most frequently
asked questions. Mexicans tell me that Mexicans and Canadians rarely tip, and if
they do the amounts are relatively small. Europeans don't tip either, they say.
Now that the American economy has crashed, and the Mexican pesos continues to
devalue, a good-sized tip can really can make a difference.
Susan Dearing is the owner of www.gomanzanillo.com
and has authored two tourist
guidebooks. The is a 21-year resident of Mexico, with 18 years in