I have a dilemma approaching that I need some advice on. This summer, I will be traveling to Greece, where I will spend a month taking part in an archaeological field school. After that, I will be going alone to Santorini, an incredibly popular vacation destination, where I will be staying for a week. While I have not yet booked my accommodations, I know what to expect. The hotel that I stay in will have less than 20 rooms, be operated by the couple who own it, and, while small and not elaborate, will be devoted to the people staying there. According to reviews and guide books, this may include the owners personally driving me places free of charge, acting as concierge in suggesting restaurants, shops, and activities, giving me a welcome gift, and generally doing everything possible to make my stay perfect.
My question, then, regards how I should repay this over-the-top kindness and hospitality. I plan to bring a gift from my hometown for the owners, but am unsure what to bring. As I said, I will be spending a month traveling and studying in Greece, so something large/awkward/heavy is out of the question. I also want to get them something they will actually enjoy – so while a coffee table book of Canadian photos might seem like an ideal gift, it also seems (at least to me) a little too generic. Or am I wrong about that? I just don’t know. My hometown has several prominent vineyards, so I have toyed with bringing them a bottle of local wine. However, I can’t decide if that is a good idea, as in, “Here, this is a different take on something you are world famous for”, or a really dumb one, as in, “Here, I brought you something that can’t possibly be as good as what you already have”.
Secondly, because so much of the work at these small hotels is done by the owners, I am unsure of how I should be tipping. In Greece, tips for housekeeping, waiters, and busboys are all considered appropriate etiquette. However, if it is the owner of the hotel, for whom I already have a gift, who is cleaning my room or serving my dinner, am I still expected to leave them a tip?
I want to leave a positive impression on the people who are going to be putting so much effort into making my trip so memorable, and I don’t want this question lingering over me. So I put it to you, the Etiquette Queen, as to what is an appropriate host-gift, and if said gift is enough or not. Thanks!!!! 0317-12
You might want to check to see if bringing wine across the border into another country is allowed by Customs or airport security before purchasing.
My personal preference for gifts of this nature are small food items particularly native to where I live. For example, for me that would be small packages of Moravian spice cookies, pimento cheese straws, praline candy, roasted peanuts and if I have the room and am not flying, a jar of BBQ sauce or locally favorite soda like Cheerwine. The idea is to give food items the recipient in another state or country isn’t likely to find in their local grocery store. Food is like bringing a small part of your home with you to share and enjoyment of food is universal. Depending on the circumstances, I might also give a jigsaw puzzle of the Outer Banks lighthouses.
For proprietors of a business, however, the best gift of all is a good review and references. If their service is stellar, upon arriving back home write a review for an online site, print it and mail it to them with a thank you note. Good businesses in which the owners have a good work ethic are treasures and should be cultivated to stay in business by sending more guests/customers to them.