‘In America the law colludes with the business model of restaurateurs who find it much easier to leave the tiresome business of paying staff to customers’

Simon CalderTravel Correspondent  

When in Mexico, do as the North Americans do. That’s the advice on tipping in all-inclusive resorts on the Riviera Maya from “Timbuktu Timmy”, who hands over a dollar for each all-inclusive drink. “Not because I necessarily want to or think it’s deserved,” he says, “but just to get served, as otherwise you get ignored whilst all the Americans and Canadians are served around you.”

I’m not a fan of all-inclusive resorts. They seem to me to deprive holidaymakers of one of the joys of travel: discovering great local places to eat and drink. And while “AI” resorts generate plenty of jobs, they deplete the ability of locally run enterprises to flourish by catering for visitors.

But British holidaymakers are keener than ever to cling to the umbilical of unlimited burgers and booze. According to Abta, the travel association: “Almost a quarter of people (23 per cent) are thinking of taking an all-inclusive holiday in 2018.” That’s up from 18 per cent two years ago. At that rate, all-inclusives will be in the majority within six years.

One of those AI newcomers asked me: “What is the correct tipping etiquette in an all-inclusive hotel in Mexico?” As it is not a specialist subject, I sought opinions on social media.

Melissa Smith says: “In AI resorts we tip for good, friendly service throughout the holiday – this helps a lot if it’s a particularly busy resort – and at the end of our stay.”

North of the Rio Grande, though, things get more serious. At Walt Disney World, warns Stewart Armstrong: “On the ‘free’ dining plan you’re still meant to tip 18-20 per cent on what would be the original value of the meal.”

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