My husband and I are enjoying a getaway to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. We just had luxurious massages at their well-appointed Willow Stream Spa.
The interesting part of this story, is that we had to pay up front, before our spa experience even began. We checked in at the counter and were asked to sign a bill that included gratuity...very nice, generous gratuity.
I was a waitress for years, and I worked my butt off for every penny in tips that I earned. You learned quickly that if you did not hustle and smile, you did not make any money. My waitress counterparts and I knew that our service directly impacted our gratuity. To this day, I am a generous tipper.
Flash forward to the swanky Willow Stream Spa. The massages are expensive, compared even to San Francisco spa prices, and I feel like I was paying it forward in gratuity--yes, paying it forward unvoluntarily big time in hope that I would have a good massage.
Is it gratuity if it is mandatory? Am I ensuring that I will get good service from my therapist if they are hoping to score a big tip? What if my experience is substandard?
I think that if you add 20 percent gratuity to any service, you should just make that part of the price. I mean, it's a guarantee, right? The therapists get my money whether I want to part with or not. It has nothing to do with my appreciation.
I'm not begrudging the tipping process, I'm just saying, call a spade a spade. It's not a tip if it's mandatory, it's the cost of the service.