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?

 

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.

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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!

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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?

Chopping Block: Southeast Light Delights

It’s a about a mile (UPHILL). I say it many times a day. People ask where the Southeast Light is and I have to inform them that it is a little of ways, but it is certainly worth their efforts.M333

Luckily, to reward their climb Southeast Light Delights and a lot of lobster awaits them. With a literal monopoly on the refreshments available nearby, the food truck could rest on it’s laurels, but IT DOES NOT.

Andre Boundreau is the funny man running the show at Delights. He dishes out high quIMG_1129 (1)ality food and drink for the flocking tourists. One of his children will likely take your order.

I had never been to the truck, but a serendipitous win at Bingo with my mother left us with a coupon for a Free- Range Lobster Roll, a Del’s Lemonade and an ice cream sandwich. Yes, all lobster is free-range by the way. This lobster happens to arrive fresh from Scarborough, Maine. Sorry, lobsters you can’t be free forever.

We biked up and enjoyed every little bitIMG_1151 of the winnings. Boundreau as pleased to have us come and collect. Even promising to my momma #blockislandfamous
The menu is not limited to lobster rolls (which at available both hot and cold), it also includes lobster grilled chesses, ricotta and berries sandwiches, hot-dogs, and more. For refreshing drinks, they offer Avery’s Artisan sodas, Maine Root beers and assorted soft drinks.

 

So plan for a picnic. This food truck provides chairs and blankets as well. Leave room for dessert. The ice cream sandwiches are layered: cookie, cookie-dough ice cream, cookie. Or if my last post has you craving gelato, the truck has two flavors that rotate daily.

The truck is located just inside the fence at The Southeast Lighthouse. Continue up Spring Street from Old Harbor (yes, about a mile) and you’ll find it. It is open daily typical 10am-4pm. Like Southeast Light Delights on Facebook for menu update and a dose of good cheer.

Do you prefer lobster rolls hot or cold? What’s the best picnic food? Did we cheat at Bingo?

Block Star: SeaPod

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Bod Welch, a man on a misson. 

You’re sitting in your beach chair at Dorie’s Cove, miles from the hustle and bustle of town. The sun is shinning and your cooler is filled with snacks, drinks and everything you need. What could be better then this?

Oh no, you realize no one packed the Rose wine you requested! Nor did anyone pack a wine opener. And would it have killed anyone to bring some cups?

Enter seaPod. The Block Island delivery service. New this summer, seaPod wants to be your “fire-putter-outer”. When you are in a corner, call seaPod. These guys will bring you whatever you need wherever you are. That includes your beach chair, your far off rental home or your hotel room door.

To have an item (or items) delivered there is a flat $10 fee for items less than $50. For items more than $50 the fee is 20% of the cost of the item. All restaurant deliveries, regardless of size, are $10. And for all island employees, delivers are $5 off.

Bob Welch started the business because he wanted to create a network between the businesses on Block Island. All items that can be purchased on Block Island are (so yes, the cost of items is still victim to that “island premium”). With a series of runners on the mainland, seaPod can also deliver off island foods and products. But, delivery rates for off-island goods vary.

SeaPod has recently added Peapod delivery to your door as well as laundry service to its array of can-dos for you (by the way no copyright infringement suit currently from Peapod on seaPod, but stay tuned).

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Van on a mission.

I am interested in using seaPod as a gift delivery service. Say ordering a dozen Panye’s donuts to have delivered to be delivered to the office. The possibilities are endless. I am waiting for some sort of disaster to strike and need to call these guys in an emergency, but I’d prefer to go with the donut fantasy.

Most delivers on island take less than a half an hour. SeaPod does take credit card. To order call, or text: (401) 871-5061.

So be the cool friend that tells everyone about seaPod. Hey, I am.

What would you order from seaPod from the mainland? Is there a time seaPod could have saved you the past? How cool is my seaPod t-shirt?IMG_1022

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.

 

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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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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?