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Gratuities in hotels and theft...

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My fiance and I are travelling to St.Vincent and the Grenadine islands March 1/07. We are involved with a tourism video promoting the islands so will likely be staying on (or at least visiting) each of the islands. We are wondering what items are particularly hard to find in these areas and would make good gifts/gratuities to cleaning staff and such (other than a cash of course)? For example I've heard things like chocolate, or toothpaste, or women's bras are very appreciated in places like cuba (not sure if there's any truth to that as I'm relatively untravelled).

We also are interested to know how common (or not) theft of personal items is from hotel rooms in Kingstown, in other parts of St.Vincent, and on the islands? Or is it fine to generally leave clothing, toiletries, and make-up lying around the room?

Thanks in advance!!

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    Part of me is happy to see the islands be promoted but the other part is selfish and never wants anyone to learn how precious and beautiful they are. I don't want them to become commercialized and spawn those ugly hi rise resorts and all inclusives. The government really needs to keep a handle on investors so the country isn't spoiled. I realize that tourism is SVG's future but hope it is done the right way. I will now step off my soapbox.

    While on the main island I suggest a visit to a small hotel/apartment called Tranquility at Indian Bay. Lucelle is the proprietor and you will not find a nicer more genuine person. True Caribbean hospitality at it's best. Botanical Gardens, Mespo Valley and the banana plantations, Owia Salt Pond, the little towns along the Windward and Leeward coasts. Fancy is the last town at the tip of the island up the Windward coast. La Soufriere the volcano. Young Island private resort across from Villa. Make sure to visit the fish market and vegetable market in town. Fri and Sat seem to be the busiest days.

    Bequia make sure you visit the Hegg Turtle sanctuary. Brother Hegg saving the turtles one at a time. The model boat builders and restaurants along the waterfront. Bequia has a whaling hx too. Beautiful beaches.

    Mayreau must see the catholic church at the top of the hill and the school. The view coming down from the other side towards Salt Whistle Bay words cannot do justice.

    Tobago Cays uninhabited islands, national park, good snorkeling, best place for a Corona commercial.

    Canuoan what can I say Raffles resort, Trump casino

    Have been to but don't know much about Union Island. Never visited Mustique, no desire too but is a source of employment for many of the Vincentians.

    Regarding your question about gifts and gratuities American dollars is the best you can leave along with a bar or box of chocolate. Clothes and other articles are in abundance in Kingstown. There are no embargos I'm aware of. I think if someone offered toothpaste or womens bras as part of a gratuity they just might be insulted. They are a proud people. Now if you establish a good relationship with staff at a hotel ask them if they have a specific need of something and offer to send it when you return home. What is not always in abundance is the cash to buy the extras. In Nov the exchange rate was US $1 = EC $2.67. Unemployment is somewhat high unless you work off island at one of the resorts or on Mustique. Wages are nothing to write home about, that's why tips are so important even though often calculated in the bill.

    I have been visiting St. Vincent for 15 years and have never felt threatened or uneasy walking the streets, on the beach or traveling the buses. Although I have heard the occasional story of a hotel room theft it has never happened to me and never felt uncomfortable leaving clothes, toiletries etc around.

    If you are doing a video to promote tourism then spotlight SVG's 2 greatest resources......the people and the natural beauty. Each and every person I have met is proud to talk about their country, the good and the not so good. Take the time to have a beer at the roadside stands or eat at a neighborhood restaurant. You won't be sorry. Nature at it's best, so beautiful both tranquil and wild. The two coasts are a wonderful contrast.

    Good luck, and enjoy. You are in for a treat.

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    vincygirl has put it very nicely.

    in addition to leaving a monetary tip (not *instead of*), I've found that housekeepers, taxi drivers, bartenders and other such folks have always appreciated when I bring something unique to or emblematic of my home. Whether that's a Red Sox hat or maple syrup or a picture book of New England, they've all been received with enthusiasm. My husband is also a book illustrator, so sometimes we'lltravel with some of his books and inscribe them to folks we encounter on our travels.

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    Thanks vinceygirl! I appreciate the tips. I've been doing lots of reading on everything to do and see and though I don't know our exact itinerary I'm sure it will include most of the places you mentioned as we have twelve days or so to capture as much of the islands beauty as we can (i'm just glad I get to see it in person).

    We were also wondering about the quality of the water there. Is tap water fine for consumption?

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