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?

 

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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

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?

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? 

Visit Block Island

Summer is just around the corner. That means your trip to Block Island must be coming up too. If you don’t have your trip planned yet, don’t worry. I’m here to help.

I will now be providing travel planning here on Unlocked Block.This will always be accessible through the Visit Block Island page.

Fill out the form below with some basic information about your trip, date, travel companions and budget. With this information and my insidIMG_6173er knowledge, I will put together a preliminary plan for your trip including available hotel rooms for your desired dates, activities for your visit and even restaurant recommendations. I will let you know of any special events going on during your visit as well.

After your review of the plan, I can book any of the reservations for you if desired.

I want all to experience what Block Island has to offer. If you take any of my plan for you and have a great time then I have fulfilled my goal.

Say hello to Block Island’s newest travel agent, Unlocked Block.

Click here to submit an inquiry.

 

Adventures ETC: Unblockable Tendencies

Unblockable |ʌnbläkˈābəl| (adjective): to describe a feeling of confidence and self-assuredness

After a week on the island, she was unblockable. I heard she might run for town office.

New word. Add it to your vocabulary because might be used often in describing how I have been doing on the island. Over the past couple days I have accomplished a few more things on from my Master Key and have had a great time doing so.

IMG_3428IMG_3430First off was my hike on Clay Head. I will do an entire Beautiful Block piece on the Clay Head Trail after I hike it again because my phone was on the fritz and unable to take to many pictures. I did catch a few, but the trail is truly beautiful and I would love to capture it and share. The trailhead is about a half mile down a dirt road off Corn Neck road up towards the most northern part of the island. The trail stays along the water but is high off it. The cliffs and slopping edges show how the ocean is slowly eroding the island.

I hiked it out on Monday afternoon in the rain, but a pretty kind of rain. It made stumbling upon an island “Poetry Box” all the more #deep #meaningful. The boxes are a neat idea. Stationed throughout the island by The Block Island School they contain a poem often times with some sort of props. On the side of them contain notebooks for passersby to contribute a poem. I added a few lines, but prefer the one I found to my own.

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As I continue my unblockable tendencies, I crossed off another To-Do today with the help of Amanda. I set the goal of driving with a second rider because I literally have zero experience with having anyone joining my rides. This presents an issue. I had struggled to find anyone who wanted to be my #2, knowing that they would be the #1. This lead to summers of lonely rides and bypassed moped use when with others. Tragic, I know. But Amanda gets a gold star for her role in me overcoming this life dream of mine.

I told her I needed one just in case for the memorial service.

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We headed out with a knot in my stomach, but the can- attitude. We succeeded and befittingly took our inaugural ride to the beach, like any good moped riders should. Followed up by some Captain Nick’s for the Block Island Music Festival (check that), we were island stylin’ after crushing a day at the office (more to come on the show).IMG_3443IMG_3442

Artsy Music Festival photo, had to.

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Yes, I’m feeling unblockable. Not much can stop me now. Amanda and I agreed that since we run the office of the largest hotel on the island, that in some ways pretty much run the whole island. What could be better than that? Logic, right?

What does unblockable mean to you? Some day-trippers stopped by the desk today and got me thinking, if you only had one day on the island (and it was a beautiful day) what would you do?

Beautiful Block: Settler’s Rock

Today marks one week since arriving on Block. It has been quite the busy one. But when I had to answer the question of “How am I liking it so far?” that was posed to me, I would have to say I love it. The island has a lot to offer and I want to take it up on that. The Master Key I made should keep me pretty busy in my down time from work, and today was no exception.

I biked out to Settler’s rock, which is the northern most point on the island. It is a fairly flat ride about 4 miles each way. Once I got out there I took a stroll up to the Northern Light, just beyond.

First, a little bit of history on the rock. Based on the rock’s bio that it boasts on it’s own, the town of New Shoreham (Block Island to the rest of the world) was founded in 1661. They dropped this rock here in 1911 to #throwback in honor of the first settlers and purchasers. Mostly likely a bunch of Quakers trying not to be killed up at Plymouth Plantation (further evidence for Block’s superiority to the Cape).

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Today the rock serves a great biking destination for tourist and wannabe locals (myself included). A right onto Corn Neck road puts bikers right on a straight path to reach the rock. Along they way they can take in the views of beautiful beaches, nature and houses they will never own.

Two friends I bumped into at the lighthouse joined my adventure. Did I mention that the tininess of the island is great and I love knowing people anywhere I go? On the way back to Old Harbor we took note of the hiking trails along the way. I will be returning up this end of the Block for those very, very soon.

This car was parked up at the rock, and it is now in the running for coolest car on the Island.

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View of the North Light from Settler’s Rock.IMG_3394.JPG (1) I found it interesting that the light house grounds serve as a hatch spot for seagulls. With so many people coming in and out of the area, these Mamas have to play a lot of defense. IMG_3401.JPG

The spot has a great view of Rhode Island and also the Western half of the island. It is a popular spot so don’t expect privacy if you visit. But the rock, lighthouse and view is a worthy reason to rent a bike and pedal up the Block. On your way you will get to see more of what the island has to offer as well. 8/10

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