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Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: Tom&Denise (
Date: November 26, 2007 05:46PM

The European standard for tipping (say in Paris/Berlin/Stockholm) is certainly different that for us Yanks. One reason is that all the waiters & staff are on the social dole with better wages, retirement benes, etc..

I appreciate good service; my range is 15+ to 20 percent in the 'States.

I've dined with & next to Euro travellers on the French side & have seen their "tips" (not so great!).

How are we supposed to behave? Do we tip down on the French side? Are wait staff pay standards better on the French side?


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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: biturbo (
Date: December 08, 2007 03:50PM

Our tipping practices are the same on the French side, the Dutch side, or at home in USA. That is 15-20%, depending on the dining experience. HOWEVER, if they add that 15% "service" charge, and this is and is not done on both sides, and they try to say "tip not included", we do not tip on top of this, nor do we return to that place. In fact, we were told by a local French couple that in most of the places that still utilize this unethical practice, that it is only charged to visitors, and they don't get charged.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: geraldo (208.123.22.---)
Date: December 08, 2007 04:02PM

I also saw on the bill in two different places that they had a line for "tax" with an amount close to 15% , I assume this was to get an even larger tip

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: flowers (
Date: December 09, 2007 12:48PM

Excuse me for being stupid! But with the Euro what it is, and the dollor worth nothing, why are you asking about tipping? most in the know do not venture to the french side for dining, as it will surely cost more than it should.
the Dutch side resturants are wonderful, and considering the now circumstance!!! Thats where most are spending there money...
On the other hand, if your staying for a short time, and do not care about what your vacation costs!!! Please go to the french side of Island...
those that spend more than a week on Island, must consider staying away....

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: Jay (
Date: December 18, 2007 04:35PM

My friedn who is a French restauranteur in Gd. Case, says that waitstaff are compensated better and tips are not necessarily expected. If you are pleased with thte service, then it is nice to leave a tip, but usually 10% would be considered to show an zappreciation of the service.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: tom2 (
Date: December 18, 2007 05:04PM

i just returned from sxm for two weeks and ate many places. i also had the tip included on both some french side and dutch side restaurants. on the dutch side pineapple petes included a tip as did the boathouse and passaghramno and captain olivers. you have to really check your check to see on both sides.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: Dennico (
Date: December 25, 2007 05:58PM

there are some info on the Tabba khady website about "tipping understanding" and what is legal or not legal on French sxm..check it out:
It is pretty clear, and living here in sxm, I do agree with what is stated on that page.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: Tom&Denise (
Date: January 01, 2008 02:06PM

Excellent response "Jay" & "Dennico" thanks for the comment.

"Flowers" ...I don't know what you are talking about. "Most in the know" apparently know nothing about a better cuisine.

We had a great experience last month, go to SXM every year and we'll continue to be more "pro French side" when thinking about dinner. How can you not?!?


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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: KZ (
Date: January 11, 2008 06:13AM

I disagree with "flowers". The French side is overall more pleasant than the overbuilt, touristy Dutch side and it would be a shame to miss out on the French restaurants in areas such as Grand Case. However, do watch out for additional charges on your bill labeled as "tax" or "service charge" since there is no tax. We were surprised to find out about such a charge on our bill at a very reputable restaurant (Le Pressoir) and angered that our waiter said that the tip was not included and that it had to be left in cash when they had clearly already added a tip to the bill.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: GaKaye (
Date: January 16, 2008 10:11AM

Flowers, I beg to differ! The main reason we vacation in St. Martin is because of the excellent restaurants. We are prepared to pay the cost of dining in these fine establishments. Not everyone is on a strict budget while on vacation. Yes, there are some good restaurants on the Dutch side as well, but we will always prefer the French side restaurants.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: KD (
Date: May 18, 2008 08:39PM

Ate at the Boathouse on the Dutch side, and the waiter there (Basil) told us the tip was not included even though the menu stated there was an automatic service charge of 15%; he told us it was tax...

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: cuznvin (
Date: May 18, 2008 08:52PM

The usual scam on the Dutch side. The only tax is a 3% tax that the business is suppose dto be paying and is not to be passed on to the patrons, HOWEVER, almost every place we at at added the tax. I gave up complaining about it and paid it.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: Dane (
Date: May 18, 2008 10:26PM

Flowers, "those in the know" realize that comparable restaurants on the French and the Dutch Side are close in price, regardless of the Euro. Temptation and Bajatzu are roughly the same price as just about any restaurant in Grand Case, while Rare is more. In fact, order the Thermidor at Pineapple Pete's and the bill will make you ask "Euros or dollars?" I presume you are the same poster that routinely bashes the French Side restaurants on TTOL, so I realize my comments may fall on deaf ears. (If I am wrong, I apologize, but your use of "dollors" is unique)

As to the initial question, my usual practice for tipping on the French side is 15-20% (as I would back home) on the Euro price, which I pay 1:1 in dollars. French Side restaurants are not allowed to add an extra service charge at the end of the meal. Their service should already be included in their prices. A service charge is added at some places on the Dutch Side. It covers the fixed salary of the waitstaff. If the service is exceptional, then it is reasonable to add an additional modest tip.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/2008 10:36PM by Dane.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: Tabba Khady (
Date: May 19, 2008 08:10AM

Chris, you just took it out of my mouth, as I also notice the very unique way to mispell the "dollor" since I made some jokes about it on the other board. Neitherless the value of one currency against the other has nothing to do with "tipping". Also you explaination is pretty clear and I only can corroborate.
I beleive I explained the subject regarding the french side on my webpages which link was posted by Denicco.
On the dutch side in some establishment a 15% service charge is added to the bill. Some of the establishment doesn't have the appropriate computer program on their cash register to label it properly and it is the reason why the line where it is added stipulate " Tax".
Except being a computer programer and be able to "break into the program system" to change the label, this line will remain as a sales tax line and there are no many way to do.
This is the case at Captain Oliver's. The service charge is added on the bill. However our program does not allow us to label it as a "service charge" on that line since the addition to the total are "pre-programed" with the US system of taxation... (yes, it is an american programed cash register), so the line where we add the 15% service charges says "sales tax", we basically don't have the choice.
However, since I became quickly tired to explain this to our guests, about 100 time a day, just below the final total, the program allow us to write a little line. Some restaurants write "thanks for visiting" we at Captain Oliver's we wrote :" the "sales tax" line is in fact 15% SERVICE CHARGE added to your bill". This reduce considerably the number of time I have to explain what the "sale tax" line is...
Now where goes this 15% service charge? It's used to pay part of the fix salary of the waitstaff. I cannot speak for all restaurant on the dutch side, but most of the time the waitstaff is not paid on an hourly basis.
It has a monthly fix salary, doesn't matter how many hours they work. Most of the time this fix salary is calculated on the minimum wage, which is about $800 a month. This is also why most of the restaurant can afford to have a lot of waitstaff.
This $800 are taken out of the 15% SC to be paid to the employee, each of them. If, when after all the fix salaries are paid, there is a remaining amount on the so called 15%SC, then this amount is redistribute to the staff, and the distribution is based on "point" given regarding position and sometime seniority.
Per example, if at the end of the month the restaurantor collected $9000 of service charge (for a gross turnover of $69000, which is not bad, beleive me, when a restaurant make that kinda money montly in sxm....) and this restaurant has 10 employees to be paid on the minimum wages requirement of $800, after paying each of them it will be left $1000 to redistribute.
In the case there is no points based on position seniority taken in consideration and the distribution is based on equal part, each employee would get $100 on the top of their $800 which will make it to $900...
I let you judge then, if it is necessary to tip or not!...
And this was when no point or seniority is involved. Imagine that the "Chef de Rang" take 10 points, the waiters 5 points each and the bussboy 1 point each, some of them got only pennies on the top of $800.
Also this example of calculation is based on a fairly important turnover, and the amount collected in service charge is considerable. Sometime it happen that there is not enought money on the "Service Charge" account to pay all the fix salary of the waitstaff and the restaurantor supplies the funds (That's when in general the restaurantor decide to lay of some employee... because it's "low season"!!!...)
Hope this help to clarify some point, and help to understand that St Maarten/St Martin is neither the USA or Europe and the the fix salaries are not comparable with other places.

Kind Regards,


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2008 08:42AM by Tabba Khady.

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Re: Tipping ..especially on French side
Posted by: contessa (
Date: May 19, 2008 09:56AM

Phillipe, darling....thanks for the headache after reading that!!winking smiley I always say," treat the waitstaff as they've treated you!" That solves a lot of problems. Plus, we're on vacation. What's a couple extra $$ for good service??
Thanks for the explanation......I think!!confused smiley


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