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Hey, buddy, you wanna tip? Bring a wad of ones on your next ski trip. Tipping is an inevitable part of travel, and when it comes to ski trips, there’s even more to it. Tipping waitresses and cabbie 15 percent is a no-brainer. What many skiers don’t know about, however, is tipping ski instructors, guides, shuttle drivers, and others unique to ski resorts.
Instructors and Guides
There are no hard-and-fast rules about how much, if anything, you should tip instructors and guides. Most instructors say they don’t expect tips, but they certainly hope for them. In general, it’s more common to tip for all-day privates, where tips average anywhere from $20 to $100 a day. We’ve heard many tales of satisfied clients showering their mentors with cash (in the four-figure range) and gifts (like free trips to Chile), but that might be overkill. Tipping in group lessons is less common and less expected, so a $5-$20 thank you for a great lesson will be appreciated.
For ski weeks and special programs, students sometimes chip in $10-$20 a person at week’s end. Tips for heli-ski and snowcat guides also run the gamut from a couple of bucks to a couple of loose diamonds (true tipping story). With the hell crowd, $100 tips at the end of a weeklong trip are not uncommon. Some ski schools suggest tips of 15-20 percent of the lesson price, but it’s really up to you. Whatever you give should be a reflection of the level of service you received. If an instructor helped you finally master the bumps, then a little something might be in order.
Of course, there are plenty of other people to tip on a ski trip long before you hit the slopes, starting with the limo or taxi driver, who gets about 15 percent of the fare. If the driver schleps your skis and boot bag for you, you ought to up it a bit. Likewise, if he took you from Manhattan to JFK via Ohio, stiff him.
Airport and Hotel
For sky-caps at the airport, it’s $1 a bag. Car valets get $1-$2, as long they haven’t spilled grape soda on your gear shift. Coat checkers, $1. Doormen, who haul your bags from car to curb at the hotel and then open the door, should get $1. Bellhops, who go the long haul with your gear (curb to lobby to room on the 75th floor in the east wing) should get at least a buck a bag, more if they fill your ice bucket and give you the lowdown on what’s what in the hotel. Though lots of people think maid service should be included in the pricey price of a hotel room, it’s customary to leave $1-$2 a day, especially if you’ve really made a sty out of the place. tipping varies depending on the level of service: For daily maid service, tip as you would at a hotel; for a once-a-week cleaning, less. Tips go on the pillow or in the handy envelope provided.
Restaurants, Bars and Spas
Then there’s dining: Room service is 15 percent, but check your bill to see if a service charge has been added (if so, a buck will do for bringing the tray). Restaurant waiters and waitresses get 15 percent (more for exceptional service less for surly). If you’re in a restaurant that’s fancy-pants enough to have a wine steward, you can tip $2-$5 a bottle, but don’t include the price of the wine when you’re figuring out your waiter’s tip. If your tastes run more to bargain buffets, you should leave $1 for each person at your table, not a percentage of the check (hey, you served yourself). And if you order pizza to be delivered to the condo, a couple bucks for the delivery person is all that’s needed.
In the bar, the standard is 15-20 percent you run a tab, or $1 a drink. However, greasing the bartender’s palm on the first day of a weeklong trip can buy you quick service in a crowded room (and maybe a few apras-ski freebies).
In the spa, gratuities range from 15 to 20 percent for massage, herbal-wrap, and salt-glow therapists, facialists, hair-stylists, and manicurists.
You’ll be happy to know there are a few people you don’t have to tip: free ski-area and airport shuttle drivers (but if they help you with your five heavy bags, tip a buck or two); flight attendants (though they sometimes treat you better than your friends do, they’re not supposed to accept tips); front-desk personnel; concierges (unless they do something extraordinary, like arrange for you to ride an early morning tram with Picabo Street, then make it a fiver or a 10 spot); maitre d’s; and waiters and waitresses in a number of European countries, where gratuities are usually included on the bill.
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