To Insure Proper Servitude: Tips for Tips

IMG_1057Gratuities are never expected, but always accepted. As someone who appreciates a nice tip (I mean who doesn’t), I wanted to investigate the tipping environment on Block Island. Who works for tips? What does proper etiquette call for tipping the many given services on the island? As an island employee I can relate to feeling let down after providing stellar service, but I know I don’t exactly how many others feel, as I don’t work solely for gratuities.

On the island, the offering of a tip can unintentionally offend another. Or a tip can be innocently forgotten when one might be anticipated. There are the experts’ opinions, but there are also certain caveats to Block Island worth consideration. The uniqueness of the island offerings means unfamiliar situations can arise.

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Most innkeepers do not expect tips for themselves, but notice if someone else does the housekeeping. Housekeeping staff works to make rooms feel new to guests every day. So if cleaning is done by housekeeping staff, the industry guideline is to tip “$2-$5 per night”, dependent on the number of people in the room.

Keep in mind that more than one housekeeper may clean your room, so tip daily during your stay to make sure the correct individual receives the payment. There may be an envelope in your room, or leave a note with a thank you so it is clearly a tip.

Island Transportation

Transportation around the island is different than the mainland. Because taxis are often called for over the phone versus being hailed (or requested through an phone application), the time invested in a ride is greater. The standard tip rate for cab drivers is 15 to 20 percent of the fare.

On the island a $25 ride puts the tip at about $3-$5. Cabs might cost more on Block Island, but on Block Island most drivers are willing to answer any questions you have about the island as well. The friendliness of drivers is not something you find in the average mainland driver. Yes, the cabs might cost you an arm and a leg to begin with on Block Island, but an extra dollar or rounding up of the cost can help make sure you are fondly remembered (and swiftly picked up again)!

If you are transporting yourself around the island on a rented bike or moped, be cognizant of the service you are provided by the person renting the vehicle. The process of fitting riders, testing the bikes and keeping the bikes in top condition is a formidable task.

Island Eats

Restaurants

One place many are attuned to standard gratuities is in restaurants. The typical expectation is 15 percent for adequate service and 20 percent for exceptional service. If there is a comment card included in your bill, fill it out; it is a free way to voice your appreciation on top of a tip. If you are enjoying your company and spend a little extra time at the table, remember to increase the tip as you are IMG_3537with holding the table from the server to serve another party.

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Consider how much “service” the counter is providing? Is the barista making your drinks and food as well? Is the food being delivered to you at a table? The more service provided should increase the tip percentage. Consider these questions when someone is scooping ice cream or making your breakfast sandwich. In many Block Island eateries counter staff is providing service that is nearly equivalent to that of a full-service waitperson.

Bartenders

The experts say “$1/drink (or 15% of total bill). Pre-tip for better service.” If the preparation of the drink is a show, reward their efforts accordingly.

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Musicians

The island is speckled with musical talent. As a passerby it is impossible to tip every musician. If you stop to enjoy the music for a minute, it is courteous to leave a one to three dollars. If there is a musician is playing in a bar or restaurant that you are in, he or she are
likely being paid. If you especially enjoy the performance, a tip is easiest way to show it.

Concierge

If she’s cute, tip accordingly 😉 No, but seriously as a concierge I only expect to be tipped if I do something extraordinary.

There are people serving all around the island sometimes expected and sometimes in unexpected way. Being aware and thankful is the first way to show gratitude. If you enjoyed the service and it met your standards, a few dollars shows that. A small tip can make a big difference to the tipped, especially on Block where the cost of living is greater than on the mainland. And if you don’t feel money is appropriate a clear thank you in person or in a note can voice your appreciations.

IMG_1268Who do you sometimes forget to tip? Have you have gotten an unconventional tip? How smoothly can you pass a hundred dollar bill?

 

Time for Shots: Photography on Block Island

There are plenty of reasons to put your phone away on Block Island. With plenty to see and do, the island is a welcome escape from technology. But what is summer if you can’t remember it in the depths of February when the days are short and the temperature is low. Here are five of our favorite places on the island to dig into the backpack and pull out the camera (but more often cell phone).

Whether it be for a selfie, a screen saver or a family photo these spots “capture” the island. Snap away and if you share the photo tag #Unlockedblock .

1. The FerryIMG_0892

It’s not everyday you’re on a ferry. Grab a shot of your traveling companions, your Bloody Mary or your wind-swept hair. A before and after Block picture might show you smiling a little wider and sporting a new t-shirt. The Block Island Ferry has a Friday photo contest. Upcoming themes include:

  • July 22: Pt. Photo Theme: A selfie or groupie on the ferry
  • July 29: Pt. Photo Theme: Wildlife on the island or in the water
  • August 5: Photo Theme: Favorite cocktail on the island
  • August 12: Photo Theme: A selfie or groupie on the beach
  • August 19: Photo Theme: Best Biking Experience on Block Island
  • August 26: Photo Theme: Your favorite place on Block Island

Submit your photo on Facebook or Instagram using the hash tag #BIFphotofriday on the specific Friday before 3pm.

2.IMG_1031 Abram’s Animal Farm and North Light Fibers

The farm is great place for an unexpected shot of a camel, a yak or any of the many animals at the farm. Don’t get too close; all animals deserve their personal space. Score a selfie with Cindy the Zedonk, for a fabulous one of a kind Instagram post.

IMG_34913. Mohegan Bluff’s Staircase

From the bottom or from the top, the view is desktop background worthy. Known for being a popular shot on the island make your angle an interesting one, don’t be afraid to change you’re focal point. Be there at sunrise for lighting that will feel magical or be there at sunset and enjoy watching the sky dance. The stairs and bluffs combination will inspire you when paired with the quote “there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”

IMG_33854. Your frozen delight

At some point during your trip to Block Island there is going to be ice cream or some other frozen goodness. If you can help yourself, pause yourself before you devour your frozen treat. Find a scenic background near your scoop shop of choice and savor the beauty of the cone in a “freeze” frame. Or make it a family affair, have everyone put his or her cones in for a group shot.

5. Sunset

With a sky that likes to show off, Block Island sunsets are clearly worth the shot. Head west for the best views and do not be afraid to wait. The closer the sun gets to completely disappearing the better light. And if you are looking for a good time to capture a picture of yourself or group, wait until the last hour before sunset. It is known as the “magic hour” by photographers, it makes for amazing lighting and for every side to look like your good side.IMG_1205

How many like have you ever got on a BI instagram photo? Pics or it didn’t happen? Does anyone else like taking pictures of other people taking selfies or is that just me?

Ferry Facts

 

People love Block Island. They just sometimes don’t love getting here, but done right the journey to Block can becomes of the fun of the trip. Here are a few facts about the people, car, and stuff moving ships that bring visitors to Block.

1.There are two types of ferries.

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Load it up.

 

The traditional ferry operates year-round and carries most of the “big” stuff including cars, mopeds, mail, and my favorite, PEAPOD. The traditional ferry takes approximately one hour from Point Judith, the only port it operates from. Beyond cars the boat also offers crate transportation. For $9.50 you can load a crate with all of your stuff (great if you are living on the island) and it will be brought on/off the ferry for you.

IMG_0031.JPGThe fast ferries (also know as Hi-Speed) carry a lighter load and a Godzilla engine. It flies the seas but only carries passengers and bikes. The ride times vary from the different ports the fast ferries depart from, which brings me to my next point…

2.There are multiple ports.

Depending on where you are coming from the ferry you take may change. There are ferries arriving on Block Island from 4 states! So no excuses, get to Block. Click the individual ferries’ names to be linked to their schedules.

The Point Judith ferries (Traditional and Hi-Speed) leaving from Narragansett, RI offers the shortest distance to Block. This port offers the greatest number of trips daily. Be sure to look at the day of the week on the schedule as well. The traditional ferry takes 1 hour while the fast ferry takes 30 minutes.Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 10.39.15 AM.png

After Point Judith, the most popular port is New London, CT. This fast ferry, operated by the Block Island Express, takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, so take a motion-sickness pill if you’re prone to being a victim of the waves. Starting July The 7th, on Thursday nights the BIE sends a 3:10 boat to Block with an 8:10 returning boat for“2 for 1 Dinner Run”. The half priced tickets allow for a wonderful short trip to the island to enjoy a dinner and a sunset. Be sure to reserve your spot.

The Fast ferry from Newport, RI allows the rich and beautiful people of Newport to visit Block Island. The only caveat of this port is that it normal makes only to round-trips daily. The travel time is approximately 60 minutes. This boat operates June 25 until September 5.

If you want to skip traffic, Fall River Hi-Speed Ferry operates one-round trip daily from Fall River, MA. The trip is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Starting June 25 the ferry leaves at 8:30am and departs at 5:55. The boat does stop in Newport.

Some people forget about the ferries that come from Long Island. The Viking Superstar ferry arrives in Old Harbor (versus New Harbor where all other ferries arrive). The boat sends one round-trip from Montauk, NY. The trip takes one hour. Just know that if you are traveling with big bags and staying in New Harbor, you might want to consider a cab!

3.Reserve your right to reserve!

Most of the ferries let you breathe easy and reserve your spot on the boat ahead of time (through their websites!). When the season is in swing it can be difficult to even get on a ferry at a peak time of day. There are stand-by lines.

Here are the times you should make a reservation:

  • You are bringing a car on the Traditional ferry (do this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE)
  • You are traveling “in-season” on a fast ferry o

When you don’t need to:

  • Mid-week high season
  • Typically anytime you are just a passenger on the traditional ferry
  • Mopeds, they do not take reservations for mopeds or bikes

 

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These people only made it on thanks to this truck. Timeliness people!

4.Be Timely

Ferries leave on time. Give yourself ample time to arrive, park and buy tickets at the ferry on the mainland. There is always some sort of unexpected traffic that you will hit and the boat don’t care.

On the island side, there is a little less to worry about, but still make be there on time. You won’t be the only one getting on the boat.

5. There is parking (and transportation on the other side!)

At each port, there is a place to park your car. But be prepared, you will have to pay. On the island side, taxis wait for your tourist dollar to cart you to your hotels with your heavy bags. Inquire at your hotel if they offer guest pick-up (ahead of time). They typical may not, if you’re nice you never know.

6. The boats are weather permitting.

High winds, storms and other “acts of god” may cancel the ferry service. Normally the ferry companies will email you if you have a reservation, but if things look ominous outside give the ferry a call or check the website and spend less time sitting on your suitcase in the parking lot.

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Seriously, I can’t get away from this guy.

7. You will see those people again!

Make sure you are kind and considerate to the people you ride the ferry with. Block Island is a small place and if you cut people off in the rush off the boat, you will continue to bump into them again and again.

What’s your ferry fact to add? Do you have a favorite drink on board? Do you have to be a conservative to ride the “traditional” ferry? 

Help Float the Glass Floats

The Glass Float Project returns once again this summer to Block Island. The hidden glass floats, otherwise known as “Orbs”, are a Block Island tradition that delights and frustrates visitors throughout the summer. The softball-sized, hand-blown glass balls are scattered across the island to be found by lucky souls.

The glass balls are crafted by Eben Horton, and funded by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and Block Island businesses. To support the project, a Kickstarter campaign in progress until May 19.

If you help fund the project you are REWARDED! Here are some highlights, be sure to check out the site to see the full details and to donate.

  • $10 or more: Glass “coin” and subscription to the email34c88b2336445ea426bccba4a37f839a_original alerts of when more floats are being hidden
  • $50 or more: Your own signed float
  • $60 or more: Pendant Block Island Necklace
  • $70 or more: Special extra large float
  • $90 or more: Solid glass float paperweight
  • $150 or more: Exclusive blue glass float
  • $250 or more: Signed Gold leaf float

So far the campaign has raised $6,500 of its $8,000 goal. The project works with the Nature Conservancy to encourage visitors to explore all that the island has to offer. Giving helps support this mission (and might help you find your own orb this summer!). Give here.

 

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All photos from The Glass Float Project.

 

Getting a Running Start

Guess who’s back to Block? This lady right here! I’m headed back to the island later this month for another summer of living in paradise.

As I think ahead, I have begun to plan out some of my race training. I am excited to participate in the Block Island Triathlon again, but there are a few other races that take place on the island as well . So if you are looking for a great reason to race over to the island, look no further.There are races throughout the summer for all abilities. The racing on the island is the whole experience, whether it be for only race day to race or even turning it into a whole weekend.

Here is a complete list of all the races on the island for the summer of 2016:

 Block Island Shad Bloom 10k Trail Run

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Details: Hosted by the New Shoreham Recreational Department this race is a mix of trails and road terrains. Be sure to train for hills and pack an extra few layers as it will likely still be chilly this weekend. Sign up for this race if you are looking for a quiet island experience; it should be quiet on the island just runners and wedding guests.Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 6.41.45 PM

Check out last year’s results to see what you’re up against.

Block Island Triathlon 

Saturday, August 6, 2016.IMG_4006

Details: As the only race I’ve personally participated in, I can vouch that this is a great sprint triathlon. The race consists of 1/4 mile open water swim, 12 miles of YOU CAN DO IT biking and a 4 mile run on Cresent Beach. It is great for rookie tri-hards and experts alike. Compete in this and have bragging rights for a least a year.

Block Island Heath Service 5K Beach Run/Walk

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Details: Block Island’s spin on the average 5k. It’s in the sand! If you can still walk after the triathlon, make it a real weekend to remember (or at least for your body to remember) with this race. Running in the sand might not be the path to PR but it is an excuse for some extra (insert great Block Island food here).

GOPR0142The Great Salt Pond Swim

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Details: Though open water, this 1-mile swim takes place ou of the heavy surf of most of Block Island’s beaches. The race is a part of an entire day to “Celebrate the Pond”. The race is capped at 150 racers and staggered starts to keep from people clobbering each other. A great race for all to train swimming abilities for! All proceeds go to the Committee for the Great Salt Pond. 

41st Annual 15k Run around the Block

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Details: See the whole island on this mid-distance run. Beginning in New Harbor, the race explores close to all of the paved roads. September is beautiful time on the island. It is also popular! If you want to stay on the island be sure to book ahead of time.

A few things to know if you plan to race on Block Island

-Most races will be postponed if ferries are not running due to weather

-Most hotels require a two-night stay on the weekend, so plan to make a real weekend out of a race

-Don’t cut off anyone on the course! You’ll likely see them again in a small place like Block Island!

Are there races you know of taking place on the island this summer? What is your favorite?  Have a great training course on the island, share! Last question (and most important) where are you getting your post-race drink?

Pre-Island Preparations: Booking on Block

Block Island is a great day trip, but why would you want to limit your island adventures to just the sunlit hours. With an exciting nightlife and more activities than one could ever accomplish in a short day, come to Block Island, and stay a while.

In the choice to stay on the island for a night or few, hotel reservations come into question. There a number of hotels, inns and small Bed & Breakfasts on the island.With my job being what it is (Front desk employee extradorare), I have learned a thing about what it takes and what should be known in booking on the island.
3697928494_251bc4fdf7 The Hotel Manisses has a number of properties that it manages, this is it’s main building.

  1. Book early: The Block Island summer season is a short one. There are only so many weekends within that season and you’re not the only one who knows about this perfect weekend escape. That being said, there is no time better plan your trip than on a cold February day after your boss has yelled at you for missing the arbitrary 9:45am deadline. Your future self will thank you. Hotels mostly open up their bookings in October for the following summer, so if you can commit to a visit earlier do so. I know that last minute getaway is exciting or romantic, but try this, book the trip don’t tell your travel partner, and boom “Surprise Honey! We’re going to Block Island next weekend and we don’t have to sleep on the beach!” Tell me that isn’t exciting, romantic AND less itchy!
  1. Exercise your Right to Reserve: Most hotels have a two-week cancel policy. This means you put down the deposit (somewhere between half the cost of your stay or sometimes the entire), and have up to two-weeks prior to your arrival date to cancel your booking and only pay a cancelation fee (often around $25). So if you do book that weekend in July back in October, only to find out that’s the weekend Maroon 5 is in town, ring up your hotel and feel the good karma as some late comer on the wait list gets to live out your weekend while you and Adam Levine stare into each other’s eyes.

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The Blue Dory is located in downtown, has rooms with ocean views and daily fresh baked cookies!

  1. Age is Just a Number: There are a couple of extra consideration you must have when booking in BI. The hotels of the island are mostly Victorian style and with this beauty, comes age and with age comes experience. Okay the point, the hotels of the island are not the cookie cutter Holiday Inn, they are not sleek and simple, they are grand and historic. So rooms are sometimes awkwardly interestingly shaped, bathrooms a little bit smaller (you see. people used to be smaller you know), and yes, things will creek.With the age factor contributes another item to add to your deliberations, many of the hotels do not have air conditioning. Some do, don’t me wrong you can find it if you want it, but the structure of the older buildings has not allowed for AC to be added to many hotels. In defense of the rooms without AC, Block Island is a breezy place; it stays cool throughout the summer. There are hot days for sure, but you are unlikely going to be in your room in the heat of the day anyways. A last big note, there are not many rooms on Block Island that are Handicap accessible. The rooms in many hotels can be up a flight of stairs (or two!). If stairs are an issue, let the hotel know and they can do their best to accommodate and keep you on the lowest floor possible.images-2

An inside look at a room at the historic National Hotel

  1. Check Out of the View: ackurs_300x200Block Island is an ocean dream; the island sites are jaw dropping. Is it important to you that you have the ability to see a humpback whale leaping from the ocean while you sit in bed? If so, you can definitely find rooms that allow, but if you don’t mind leave the room for your site seeing, save a pretty penny and opt for a room without a view. When your eyes are closed and you are sleeping in bed (which is really why you have a room) what is visible from your window means a lot less
  1. Sharing is Caring: Another way to save a few bucks (enough for a few rounds of drinks, at least), is to accept shared bathrooms as an option. I know it sounds like a hostel, but the hotels of the island make sure it is kept classy. In many of the small inns, you are likely only sharing the lou with one or two other rooms. Many people say they don’t even see the other guests. So pack your shower shoes, you know you can do it; I mean if you use public restrooms for goodness sake, what’s the big whoop?

When it comes time to actually book be bold.  Ask about the amenities provided (free breakfast, beach towels, cots in the room), sometimes these are provided only if you ask. Ask for a discount, as well! It may sound like you are being cheap but when there is a real live person on the other end of the phone (not just booking through an online site), you much more likely to be received in your request. Last thing to note, let your hotel know if you are coming out to the island for a special occasion (i.e. birthday or anniversary). The hotels want you to have a great time (and might even comp some Champagne ;))  so that it becomes a annual event!

With a little background into what to think about (and when) in finding a place to stay on Block Island prioritize your essentials (i.e. timing, AC, your own golden toilet) and you will be able to find a room that does not break the bank but spoils you senselessly. For up to date availability contact the Block Island Chamber of Commerce at (401) 466-2982. They can often answer a field of questions about hotels, directions, and the island in general.

Where have you stayed on the island? What has your experience been in booking? When it comes to hotels do prefer to splurge or save?

Barking Block

If you are like my family, the thought of leaving Fido behind when you come to visit Block Island is inconceivable. Luckily, the island has many accommodations and areas that are pet friendly and allow both you and your pup to enjoy Block Island.

Pre-Island

Be sure treat your dog with tick repellent before your trip, the island is known for its deer tick population and this leaves dogs running through the islands trails at risk. Be sure to pack dog food; there will not many choices available once you are on island.

One big thing to think about is the commitment to bringing along your furry friend. You will not be able to leave him for extended periods of time within the hotel and hot days can take the meaning of “the dog days of summer” to another level, leaving dogs indoors on days like these is not an option.

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Getting There

Dogs are allowed on the traditional and fast ferries. The traditional ferry from Pt. Judith requires you remain outside with the animal, unless crated. And the fast ferries only allow crated pets.

Where to stay

There are a number of hotels and inns that are dog friendly on the island, some charge cleaning fees, and those that leave you with close quarters to neighbors often request you leave a cell phone number if you are going to leave your pup for a short while (in case he misses you too loudly). Other small inns and rentals allow pets, be sure to ask when you call.

-Spring House Hotel- The hotel has one Seaside rental home, and 6 Townhomes that are open to dogs. There is a $150 additional charge over 35lbs and $75 charge pets under 35lbs, for cleaning after your stay.

-Darius Inn- $50 fee per stay, dogs are welcome in all rooms with private entrances.Ann_and_Simon_sized

-Gothic Inn-No fee in their 1 room and 3 apartments that are dog friendly, the inn also has one cottage for rent outside of town that is a “dog heaven” with fields, hiking and plenty of space.

-Blue Dory Inn-Allows dogs for $25 fee in rooms and suites with outdoor exits.

Shops and Restaurants

One great option on the island is the availability of take-out. Order up at your restaurant of choice; get it to-go and enjoy the all the spots the island has to offer.
Unknown-1– The National Tap & Grille: On the back porch of the hotel, you and your dog can enjoy dining and the full menu of the hotel’s restaurant.

-The Harborside Inn: Outdoor wicker seating allows you to dine with the entire family. They even provides treats and water.

-The Island Dog: Located just to the left of The Statue of Rebecca, this shop welcomes pups and owners to come in and browse and buy inspired by Block and those who bark. A great stop for a gift for the dog lover back home.

I spoke with Island Dog owner about the uptick in pet accompanying vacations. “Dogs are the new kids,” she said and I have to agree with her. This means Buddy can’t be left behind anymore than the newborn baby. She has seen popularity in her store grow with dogs being the new trend. Even if the animal does don’t come along for the getaway, he does certainly need a Block Island collar to be reminded of the week in kennel (but don’t worry he loves you still).

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The town does have a leash law that requires dogs to be leashed in public areas, and non-accordance with the law can lead to fines. The best way to avoid this is taking dogs to the beach early in the morning or later in the evening when the space is less busy. The Greenway hiking trails are great pet-friendly activities as well. The island offers a great getaway that lets the entire family come along, so if your best friend didn’t make this trip, bring him back a little something and a promise he will surely be accompanying the next trip.

Dog Jaunt offered great information for this post, it is great site to use when headed anywhere with your pet.