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.

At Your AccommodationsIMG_4031.jpg

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.

Counter Service        IMG_0831.jpg

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.

The CurveballsIMG_1047.jpg

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?

 

Advertisements

Block Party: Blues on the Block

IMG_1236Blues on the Block is a Block Island tradition that brings together many of my favorite things: music, early evening activities, sand, the list goes on and on.

On select Wednesdays at Fred Benson Town Beach Pavilion, join the “cool cats in town” for a shaking good time. This summer you still have one chance to go, August 3rd.

IMG_1226Go prepared. Music starts at 6pm going til about 8pm so make it a picnic. Serious tailgaters you know what to do here, but if you’re new to the game here’s your short introduction. Start with drinks, a nice wine says “I’m classy and I know it” and pairs well with a hummus spread. Throw in some pita chips and a quarter pound of sharp cheddar and you’ll be turning away the Queen from your beach blanket.

On Block with limited resources? Go the take-out route and pick up some pizza pies at Aldo’s. You won’t have to worry about utensils, and you’ll make your evening hassle free. Just remember “carry in, carry out” the seagulls are not hungry for your beer bottles.

So once your bottomless pit (stomach) is full, time to dance. The musicians at Blues on the Beach changes each night, but all of the groups play for the crowd and play very well. After 7pm once the crowd is really there, the platform in front of the Pavilion becomes a dance IMG_1229floor. To my surprise, people really dance (myself included) (yes that link is worth clicking)! Say awe when they slow it down for couples and enjoy watching older couples circle the floor (if your faith in love isn’t restored, you’re a cold one).
The night winds down as the sun sets and music fades. Blues on the Block is the perfect cap to a Block Island day.

If there is inclement weather, Blues on the Beach is held at Captain Nicks. So mark your calendars for August 3rd, you don’t want to miss this show.

Do you like Blues music? Is 6pm the new hot hour of the night? Is Bruno Mars considered Blues?

Bonus Blog

Today, I had my lovely grandparents on Block Island. They choose the perfect day to visit with calm seas, a farmers’ market and a natural-born tour guide with the day off. And hey, this isn’t their first time.

We had lunch at the Spring House because why go anywhere but the best? Then we were ready for a quick dip. We headed to Ballard’s beach because of its location, but I did so begrudgingly. Ballard’s is too crowded for me with too much alcohol to worsen the situation. But it did the trick. We dunked and dashed, dodging Ballard’s finest.

IMG_1285

It was a quick trip, but these two did it right. I tried to offer them a hotel room, but they forgot their toothbrushes. Thanks for visiting Grandma and Grandpa, see you soon!

IMG_1287

 

Block: 5 Letter Word for Paradise

If you haven’t heard, there are power issues on Block Island this weekend. A fire at the Block Island Power Co. on Friday evening is leaving some in the dark. The town is rotating which parts of town are receiving power at any given time in order to conserve the limited energy.

So in the midst of a crisis, keep calm and carry on. I present my Block Island crossword puzzle. Print it out, take it to the beach and enjoy! No electrical power needed just brain power (and some serious island know-how).

If you complete the puzzle, snap a picture and send it my way (jennamead7@gmail.com). I’ll send you a limited edition wine-cork keychain. I would say those who read the blog regularly have a big advantage on this.

Click here for a high-resolution copy: Block Island Crossword

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 6.00.55 PM

Dying to know the answers? Message me and I’ll send a copy.

What do you think of my crossword? Do I have a future as a puzzle guru? What did you get for 8 across?

IMG_3907.JPG

 

Soar and Tour: Heliblock

What’s that? I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the roar of my helicopter (ok, the helicopter). Regardless, there is something new in the skies above Block these days.

There is a unique and different way to explore Block Island this summer and you don’t even have to exercise or sit in a stuffy taxicab to take part. Heliblock is new to the island offering “hell of a good” Block Island tour.

IMG_1080
Co-Owner Matt Hallet will take you up in the Robin II.

I always thought I would be in some kind of medical emergency if I found myself in a helicopter above Block Island, but it turns out I can skip the moped accident.

Zoom above the beaches and bluffs for the best views the island has to offer. The helicopter goes up about 1,500 and makes Block feel much smaller than it already is.

For those of you who are skittish when it comes to being more then 6 feet off the ground, let me tell you. The ride is certainly smoother then any airplane flight I’ve taken. Add to that is being able to watch the pilot handle the controls makes the whole “no-control” thing a little less worrisome.

The Tours

Block Island Tour

P1080260Approximately 10-12 minutes, costs $60 per person. When the helicopter takes off it cruises over the western half of the island. This allows for surveying of private homes and beaches you never knew existed. The tour then loops left towards the Mohegan Bluffs taking in views of the Wind Farm and Southeast Light. The aircraft goes up the eastern coast making riders feel a world away as the entire island is visible at once. The entire tour is awe striking and leaves passengers ready to go check out a new beach once they have returned to land.

Sunset TourP1080360

Can you say hot date? Cruise over Block and hold their hand, this option is about 20 minutes in length and even if your date rejects you, the Instagram likes will make the trip worth it. #nofilter

Islands Tour

See the neighbors. Fly over Montauk, Gardiners Island, Fisher’s Island, Westerly and come home to Block. This option runs for $300 for two passengers.IMG_1066

Want to learn to fly yourself? Matt Hallet, co-owner of HeliBlock is a certified flight instructor. Demo flights are available.

Oh and it’s probably best to just take a tour or lesson. Fun Fact: This helicopter costs about $500,000.

Reservations are accepted, but walk-ins are welcome. There is no age limit or physical requirements to riding. The HeliBlock helicopter is found on the western end of the Block Island airport. Check out Heliblock on Facebook and Instagram . (Their photos kinda rock!)

Are you afraid of flying? Where on Block do you want to see from above? Does the tour count if you don’t Instagram a photo from it?

IMG_1081

Stay the Night: The Darius Inn

If you are looking for a cool place to stay on Block Island, the Darius Inn is the perfect place. Located on Dodge Street, this Inn offers larger suites and standard size rooms.

6Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_InnThis place is eclectic. Every decoration, book, and room were selected by sisters Becca and Christy Zendt. For the past three summers, the sisters made the inn their own. A certain personality is felt when you enter the Inn’s lobby and its one of intrigue and excitement. All the rooms are embellished with Block Island inspired pieces, and every room is different.

The Place

On the first floor, there are mostly suites with separate rooms that can sleep up to 6 people. FYI, the first floor rooms are PET-FRIENDLY. The rooms are decorated with charm and originality.68Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_Inn

Most of the furniture in the rooms is repurposed Block Island finds. The suites include modern efficiency kitchens (which if your like me is important for bedtime tea-making). All of these rooms have private entrances and some even have porches that let guests sit out and watch Block Island stroll by on Dodge St.

Upstairs the rooms are a bit smaller, but more affordable. There is sitting parlor and a communal porch for that people watching previously mentioned.25Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_Inn

The Perks

There are some additional perks for staying at the Darius. First off, though they may not advertise, is the perk of a totaly laidback vibe and feel. This place lets you feel at home in paradise.

 

ea34e3036af86ccb22ddd7da2744358c
Happy Hour snacks are just as pin-worthy.

In the morning, breakfast is served. Guests can try homemade recipes of foods they have probably “pinned” but never had time to make.  (You can follow Darius on Pinterest too.) Coffee and tea are available throughout the day as well.

 
In the afternoon, Happy Hour serves up exactly that “happiness”: drinks, bites and a little bonding with your neighbors. Enjoy it in Darius’ backyard (yup, add that to the perk list.)

Additional services include bike vouchers and casual concierge services. The Darius also offers to “stock your fridge” with guest’s lists of groceries for a fee.

As a social media hog, I appreciate the Darius’ Bag trend. Guest can purchase the famous bag and tote it with them around the world. #wheresyourdarius #socialmediagoals

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 3.04.06 PM

The Props

As a sister of four, I give total props to the Zendts for working together and creating a cool, but also functional place to stay on Block Island.

The rest of the summer is fairly booked, but a number of one-night weekday stays are available. Rates for rooms begin at $195 and range to $565 for apartment style suites. To check availability visit dariusblockisland.com. The Inn is worth the follow on Instagram with fun photos and Block Island beauty.

15Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_Inn
All photos are from dariusblockisland.com and Darius social media.

 

Have you ever stayed at the Darius? What’s your happy hour? How many sisters of mine will read this and want to open an inn with me?

Type A Itinerary: Day Tripping Out

Whether it is because of your overzealous boss or your fear of commitment, sometimes an overnight stay on Block Island is out of the question. Don’t worry, a day trip to Block Island still allows for exploration and adventure (just squeezed in between the first and last ferries).

IMG_0835 (1).jpg
Dressed for success.

The night before your epic trip: pack. Pack light, you will be turtle-ing around all day (that means carrying your home on your back). A backpack can’t be beat especially if you choose to hop on a bike.

In your pack: small beach towel, sunscreen, reusable water bottle, heat-resistant snacks (just not chocolate protein bars please!), lightweight coverup/outfit swap, CASH (and credit cards, if we’re being honest).
I suggest wearing layers: bathing suit, movable clothing, and a light sweatshirt. Bonus tip: if you have a sweatshirt you are ready to part with, wear/pack that and use it if needed or discard if it’s 80 and awesome.

The ferry will feel like home on a day trip. Scout out the best times. Push yourself to get out the door early. The first ferries will be a lot less crowded than say the 10 or 11am.

As you come off the ferry, don’t let the hub but of Water Street make you feel out place. You are just as Block Island as you believe you are. Just don’t act like like a totally new guy. That includes: not using a map in the middle of the sidewalk, asking a busy employee about a business that is not their own, or most importantly, saying you prefer the Vineyard.

Wheels. If you got ’em bring em. Moped or bicycle. It is cheaper to pay the ferry fee than the rental shop. Be sure to bring along your own bike lock. If you don’t have your own. There are a number of bike rental shops right when you get off the ferry. Be a know it all and go one street back to Aldo’s Bikes, beat the ferry rush and be on your way.

The wheels will expedite the exploration process and allow to see more on your short visit.

Time for Snack attack. If you skipped breakfast or am just hungry. Time to fuel up while you are near some great options. Old Post Bagels and Top Side Cafe are great quick options for breakfast fare. IMG_0038.jpg
If you are looking for a one of a kind sit-down meal early in the day, Bethany’s Airport diner is an awesome spot. Hop on those wheels and take a short ride to the airport where you can grub on and watch the beautiful people come and go on their aircraft.

IMG_4063.jpgLet’s go to the BEACH, BEACH. This is WHAT YOU CAME HERE FOR. Swim, walk, surf and chill on any of Block’s beaches. You know how to do this part.What I can advise on is if you are looking to rinse off after a sandy session there are showers located:

  • Fred Benson Beach Pavilion
  • Ballard’s Beach
  • Old Harbor (near the boats)

If you grabbed something to eat when you arrived then went exploring it may be mid-afternoon by the time you want to eat again. This is great because you don’t want to be chowing down a big meal minutes before your ferry depart. Have a nice linner (otherwise know as dunch). Don’t bother looking for a happy hour drink menu, it is illegal in Rhode Island to discount alcohol for given times. Inquire about late afternoon food deals, though, a common replacement. IMG_0004.jpg
If you are looking to relax (as if you were at home) the lawn at The Spring House or at The Oar are great options with great food, drinks, and lawn games.

IMG_3339.jpg
A cone a day, keeps the boys away.

When it is time to go home, be prompt. Ferries don’t care if you don’t have a hotel room. Save the trip back for instagraming your “carpe diem” kinda of day.

Plus, because you earned it grab some frozen happiness once you get off the ferry at Brickley’s Ice Cream in Narragansett.

If you were on Block Island for a day what would be your first stop? Do you have day trip tips? How many ice cream cones can you eat in one day?

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.

IMG_0023
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

 

IMG_0028
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.

IMG_3289
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?