The charges you incur for food and drinks in Turks and Caicos can be confusing.  It is not always clear what is included in the bill.  One of the problems you may run into is there is no standardization on the islands for food and drink bills.  They all could look different.

Most resorts and restaurants charge a “service fee” in addition to taxes (a few do not).  So your bill may end up looking something like this at many Turks and Caicos locations:

Food and Drink $50

Taxes $5

Services $5

Total $60

Tips / Gratuity   ___________

Total $



This is a simplified bill, but you get the idea.  In addition to the actual food and drinks, you will get a line for taxes at 10 to 11% (whatever the current rate is) plus a line for “services” which might be called other terms as well for 8 to 15% depending on where you are at.  So the question is, what are these service fees you are paying for?  Is that the tip or gratuity?

The answer is, yes, at least partially.

The service fee goes to all of the workers of the resort or restaurant and is split by them.  So in the example above, a 10% charge or $5 goes to the restaurant or resort workers.  Anything you decide to add on top of that in the tip line goes directly to your server.

Opinions on this vary, but our opinion is that if the service fee is 10%, then you should only add an additional 5 to 10% depending on service.  You should not add an additional 15% or so thinking that you are tipping on the first total of $60 because there is some gratuity already included in the Service Fee.

However, this leads to more questions about tipping that we likely will not answer here, but will give you something to think about.  If you are paying a service fee on all of your food and beverage on your resort (and some resorts have a fee as high as 15%), should you still tip your house cleaning?  House cleaning is already getting part of the split of the food and beverage service fee.  These are not easy questions to answer.

Food and beverage is already pretty expensive in Turks and Caicos.  Adding high taxes and services fees makes it even more expensive.  There are ways to save some money like going to the local grocery store and eating some meals in.  But, the food is wonderful on Turks and Caicos and you are on vacation so you should eat out some.  Relax and enjoy your time on Turks and Caicos, but be prepared for these charges.

Photo thanks to kenji ross.