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Grand Case Dining....after the meal #113178
11/25/2016 02:14 PM
11/25/2016 02:14 PM
Joined: Apr 2016
Posts: 131
Ontario, Canada
OllieEh Offline OP
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OllieEh  Offline OP
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We vacationed in St Martin for two weeks last summer and can now appreciate why so many adore this island and return regularly. We will be returning this summer and staying at the same villa in the La Savanne area.

We dined at four different restaurants in Grand Case and used a taxi vs our rental car for the 5 minute ride due to parking reasons, safety, and to be on the safe for alcohol consumption. I quickly realized that with proper awareness of surroundings that the safety concerns were laid to rest. The dining experiences were excellent but being whisked in and out from the front of the restaurant seemed to mute the evening. Are there any places to have a cocktail post meal in Grand Case and/or do the restaurants mind if you stay after the meal for drinks? We were there in low season and we actually felt that we were welcome to stay if we wished.

This forum was an integral part to enjoying trip with its wealth of tips and experiences from the members. It really gave us a head start from learning the culture, Blue Zone parking, restaurant reviews, visiting Club O and beyond! I would have never known about "service compris" and "le pourboire" on the French sideif it were not for this informative site. We felt like well informed and experienced travellers at the first 3 restaurants and then the last restaurant, L'Auberge Gourmande, the bill clearly stated "service non compris" and that gratuities couldn't be billed to a credit card. After such a beautiful dining experience, I have to admit to a little anxiety about how to handle this. I just reverted back to North American roots and left a 20% old fashioned "tip". I couldn't help but feel taken advantage of especially with the knowledge of French laws. There are numerous superb threads on here explaining gratuities for French dining so I don't want it to go down that path but I'm just wondering how the veteran travellers would handle this situation.

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Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113179
11/25/2016 02:28 PM
11/25/2016 02:28 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 12,460
île staten
Bobcat Offline
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Since no service was included in the check I would say you did the correct thing.


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Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113180
11/25/2016 02:33 PM
11/25/2016 02:33 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,188
CT
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We've never felt rushed out of any restaurant in Grand Case & I'm sure any would welcome you to stay for drinks.
Regarding tipping, you should do what you feel comfortable with. There are several schools of thought that has been debated many times here, so I'm not going to even go there...


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If life hands you a lemon, just squeeze it on a lobster!
Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113181
11/25/2016 02:42 PM
11/25/2016 02:42 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,976
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
islandgem Offline
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In France, it is the law to include the service in the bill, so if they say they did not include it, I would be suspicious regarding this declaration. I would not tip 20%, but would leave a "pour boire" to thank them for their service , if it was good.I know there will be many different opinions on this, but this is mine and that of many other regular visitors.




Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113182
11/25/2016 03:11 PM
11/25/2016 03:11 PM
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Posts: 2,288
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PelicanPirate Offline
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Our experience is the table if probably yours for the evening until you are finished eating and drinking. It seems as if they have reservations and squeeze ins and it seems like they are reluctant to promise a squeeze in because they don't know when/if folks will leave.

Versus the US, where table turnover is the aim of the game and they always have a guestimate when a table might be ready.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: PelicanPirate] #113183
11/25/2016 05:58 PM
11/25/2016 05:58 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,911
Rhode Island
RonDon Offline
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Back in the day these restaurants had two seatings, 7pm & 9:30 and you could stay at least until the next seating. It was so much nicer then because now, in high season, we sometimes feel rushed in "some" places because they cram in as many rsvp's as possible . Some places still seem leisurely . I guess those places are not out for the most $$ that can be made.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113184
11/25/2016 06:16 PM
11/25/2016 06:16 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,321
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Tom Online content
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We've been going to SXM for a long time. I cannot remember ever being rushed to move out like we find back home. Especially at the finer restaurants, dinner is considered an event to be savored and enjoyed at a leisurely pace. We Americans often move along faster since we have been, unfortunately programmed to do this.
Most of us on this board have stated our feelings toward gratuities. You are the customer. You set the rules for what you feel is fair dependent upon the level of food quality and service.
I, like many have been tricked into over tipping. With age comes some degree of wisdom.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113185
11/25/2016 06:20 PM
11/25/2016 06:20 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,977
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline
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L'auberge Gourmand was once our favorite Grand Case restaurant. We stopped going there when we were presented with a bill stamped, "service not included". There are too many great places to dine on the island that don't take advantage of their customers to patronize those that do.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: GaKaye] #113186
11/25/2016 10:35 PM
11/25/2016 10:35 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 306
Chicago, IL
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Mbrott Offline
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Quote
GaKaye said:
L'auberge Gourmand was once our favorite Grand Case restaurant. We stopped going there when we were presented with a bill stamped, "service not included". There are too many great places to dine on the island that don't take advantage of their customers to patronize those that do.


I agree with you Kaye. Last year they pulled that on us and the food wasn't terrific. We definitely will not be going back this March.


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Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: GaKaye] #113187
11/25/2016 11:08 PM
11/25/2016 11:08 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 41
PA/MA
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stjames Offline
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PA/MA
L'Auberge is no different than any other restaurant on the French Side. Don't let the verbiage on the bill confuse you. Gratuities can't be billed to a credit card (there's not even a line to write it in) because there is no tipping in France! I don't know if L'Auberge is intentionally trying to trick guests by saying service non compris (we fell into that trap our first visit) but if you know the score you'll be fine. It remains our favorite restaurant after 16 years of visits to the island.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal #113188
11/25/2016 11:21 PM
11/25/2016 11:21 PM
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Posts: 64
Columbus, Ohio
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CMHToddandTony Offline
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Love hotel is a great place for after dinner drink.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal #113189
11/25/2016 11:35 PM
11/25/2016 11:35 PM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 64
Columbus, Ohio
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L'auberge Gourmand Is one of the few restaurants that is croweded right now. Many have no one dining. Not sure about service charges but they are doing something right. Planning on dining there tomorrow night and will report back. We are staying in a cottage in Grand Case this week, none of the restaurants on water side have been busy. L'auberge Gourmand and Le Cottage have been packed every night.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113190
11/26/2016 04:44 AM
11/26/2016 04:44 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 12,460
île staten
Bobcat Offline
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The OP... Ollie Eh knows the law -he was more concerned with his handling of the matter. The restaurant is either clearly and openly in violation of law or trying to put one over on the customer, in either case not good, we all agree on this.
The guest is going to know up front by reading the menu and can simply get up and leave, no harm done, but once food is ordered a decision needs to be made regarding leaving a tip or not and how much and how the waitstaff may respond. If one is not comfortable with this it can be a issue to decide at the outset.


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Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: stjames] #113191
11/26/2016 06:51 AM
11/26/2016 06:51 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,977
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline
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I understand the difference between tip and service. If service is not included, that should be printed on the menu, not rubber stamped on the check.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113192
11/26/2016 08:15 AM
11/26/2016 08:15 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 12,460
île staten
Bobcat Offline
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Has their menu been changed to remove the language about not including the service - it is on their Internet image of their menu.

Last edited by Bobcat; 11/26/2016 08:19 AM.
Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: Bobcat] #113193
11/26/2016 08:19 AM
11/26/2016 08:19 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,662
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline
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Bobcat,

check your link as it does not work for me. Thanks.


J.D.
Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: ruralcarrier] #113194
11/26/2016 08:21 AM
11/26/2016 08:21 AM
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Posts: 12,460
île staten
Bobcat Offline
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Okay thanks J.D. please try Erich's site he has a link
sxm-info.com


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Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: Bobcat] #113195
11/26/2016 08:48 AM
11/26/2016 08:48 AM
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Posts: 48
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I didn't gather from your post that you were rushed out of the restaurant rather it was because of catching cabs.

Grand Case is probably our favorite little town on the island; after dinner the Calmos Cafe is excellent, so is Love Hotel.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: rastamojo7] #113196
11/26/2016 08:58 AM
11/26/2016 08:58 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 12,460
île staten
Bobcat Offline
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lol -no, I was not there, you replied to me in error. NP
<img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Grin.gif" alt="" />


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Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113197
11/26/2016 05:56 PM
11/26/2016 05:56 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 585
Iowa
beechbumms Offline
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We are from the Midwest and are what most would consider early eaters, we usually eat around 6 or 6:30 pm. We have felt rushed even when we made reservations because most people come to the restaurants between 7:30 or 8 pm or later. There is sometimes a line of people waiting to get in. We usually finish our meal and go somewhere like Calmo's or Rainbow for a post meal drink before taking a taxi back to our room.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: Bobcat] #113198
11/27/2016 05:54 AM
11/27/2016 05:54 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,977
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline
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It has been several years since we dined there, so it's entirely possible that they're now printing it on the menu. That's certainly the appropriate way to handle the situation.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: GaKaye] #113199
11/27/2016 06:17 AM
11/27/2016 06:17 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 12,460
île staten
Bobcat Offline
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I agree with you. Of course to place this on a menu is telling the government they do not care about the law or they are adding it and trying to put one over on the customer, either way unacceptable, except it does allow the customer a chance to accept or decline prior to ordering.

I recall years ago dining at Captain Olivers on Oyster Pond, just over the "International Bridge" on the Dutch pier -they routinely added 15% Service charge then presented a credit card slip with a space for a tip hoping the customer would add another 15%.

Last edited by Bobcat; 11/27/2016 06:19 AM.

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Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: Bobcat] #113200
11/27/2016 06:21 AM
11/27/2016 06:21 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,977
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline
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My understanding of the law is that the service cannot be added as a separate item on the check, not that it must be included in the price of the meal. We've seen service not included printed on many menus in Europe.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: GaKaye] #113201
11/27/2016 06:28 AM
11/27/2016 06:28 AM
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Bobcat Offline
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On the Dutch side the service charge, if any, is added as a line item


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Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: Bobcat] #113202
11/27/2016 06:51 AM
11/27/2016 06:51 AM
Joined: Apr 2016
Posts: 131
Ontario, Canada
OllieEh Offline OP
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Thank you all for your take on this matter and I respect everyone's thoughts. For me, Bobcat hit the nail on the head with either they are sticking their nose up at French laws or deceiving the customer. They are upfront on their website. I can't recall if it was on the menu at the restaurant but it was front and centre with the bill. It did cause a little anxiety after an otherwise perfect meal. Will I return? I'd love to return but whether it be real or imagined, I can't help but feel that I've been tricked.
I appreciate those who recommended Love Hotel, Calmos Cafe and Rainbow for post meal cocktails. We will probably mix it up and stay in the restaurants for drinks after the meal and/or visit the other options.
This forum continues to amaze me with the wealth of information that the members are more than happy to share. Once again, thanks to all that have contributed on all the subjects. We were able to land on the island running instead of trying to figure everything out on our own. Cheers!

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113203
11/27/2016 11:16 AM
11/27/2016 11:16 AM
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Connecticut
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One thing that we noticed was we never saw a tip left on the table by the French. If it can't be included on a charge, it must be a cash tip, I assume.

On occasion, between SXM and Europe, we have seen a few coins left.
We sometimes try to look, only because we are still not 100% comfortable not tipping the American way, as we did for years, but if it isn't necessary why do it.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: GaKaye] #113204
11/27/2016 09:26 PM
11/27/2016 09:26 PM
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Let me see if I understand the laws on the french side correctly:

1) If the menu handed to you, does not have a notation " service non comprise", Then the assumption is service is included in the menu prices and no additional service charge can be added at the end to the bill. So if the total menu items is 100, the final bill should be 100 as well. And you may choose to leave few in change.

2) If the menu handed to you, does not have a notation " service non comprise", Then the assumption is service is included in the menu prices and no additional service charge can be added at the end to the bill. So if the total menu items is 100, the final bill should be 100 as well. However if you are handed a bill of 100 with stamped " service non comprise". It appears that the establishment is being greedy trying to pull a fast one and hoping you will leave additional amount over legally included service charge

3) If the menu handed to you, has a notation " service non comprise", Then the service charge can be added to the bill, but not as a separate item. So if the total menu items is 100, the final bill could be be 115 ( assuming a 15% service charge). In this case then the total amount of 115 can be charged to CC.
However the bill should not be presented as 100 food drink line, with a 15 service charge line with a total of 115 line.

4) If the menu handed to you, has a notation " service non comprise", Then the service charge can be added to the bill, but not as a separate item. So if the total menu items is 100, the final bill could be be 115 ( assuming a 15% service charge). However even with that if your bill is stamped " service non comprise". It appears that the establishment is being greedy trying to pull a fast one and hoping you will leave additional amount over 115.

I remember few years back (almost 6 years ago) one of the GC establishment ( if my memory serves me right, was La Villa) stamped "service not included" on the final bill, if they felt you were an American. We were warned ahead of time. We went there twice that year (12/2010). First time with bunch of Spanish and french speaking friends. There was no stamp on the final bill. The second time, it was just the 2 of us and at the end we were handed a English bill with "service not included stamp" and that that part can not be charged on the CC. I just felt they were trying to take advantage of the Americans.

Nick

Last edited by milo911md; 11/27/2016 09:38 PM.
Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: milo911md] #113205
11/27/2016 10:15 PM
11/27/2016 10:15 PM
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Sunfun Offline
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At Waikiki last December (where they have a huge lunch time invasion of cruise ship people) the bills were being stamped "tip not included." At least the ones for the Americans/Canadians were. Not the ones for the French.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: milo911md] #113206
11/27/2016 11:36 PM
11/27/2016 11:36 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
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Auburn, WA
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I understand what you are saying on points 3 and 4 but just because it says non does not give the restaurant authorization to add a 15% tip to the bill. What ever you want to leave if any is up to you.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: SXMScubaman] #113207
11/28/2016 08:57 AM
11/28/2016 08:57 AM
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JulieandKarl Offline
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Hasn't this topic been thoroughly discussed on other threads? Tip or don't. Whatever works for you. This is not something we worry about when we are on vacation.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: JulieandKarl] #113208
11/28/2016 10:37 AM
11/28/2016 10:37 AM
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Posts: 131
Ontario, Canada
OllieEh Offline OP
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My original question was just asking about French Law and certain restaurant practices, that to the eye test, conflicted with each other. My intention was to learn from the veterans and how they handle these situations since they have much more experience than I do. I can now see that there are basically three different schools of thought. There are those that ignore and leave an appropriate pourboire...those, like me, that find it confusing and sweat it out, conflicted in what to do (I don't want to stiff the fabulous staff but I also don't want to be taken advantage of)...and there are those, like my wife, who say it's nothing to worry or even think about while on vacation.

I take pride with my tipping and often over-tip or tip when it's not expected, So, I need to take into perspective about how little it is that is causing me angst in the worse case scenario. The worse case scenario (which may not be the case), being that a 15% service fee IS already in the price and a conflicting "service non compris" message is on the website, menu, or bill brought to the table. In this case, I left a 20% "tip". Therefore, I possibly could have left 35% combined in service and pourboire. At restaurants that posted "service compris", I left 10% pourboire due to outstanding food and service plus the fact that most took the USD at par. In this situation, 25% in total was left. Therefore, it only cost a mere $15 extra on our average meal. Not much eh? JulieandKarl are correct, I'm on vacation and it shouldn't bother me taking in the grand scheme of things...but it still does.

I loved L'Auberge Gourmande and I will return but I know I'm going to be uneasy again even though it is just chump change in the big picture. My wife told me that she will treat and take care of transactions at this restaurant...lol

Thank you all for your thoughts.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: JulieandKarl] #113209
11/28/2016 11:01 AM
11/28/2016 11:01 AM
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Ohio
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Quote
JulieandKarl said:
Hasn't this topic been thoroughly discussed on other threads? Tip or don't. Whatever works for you. This is not something we worry about when we are on vacation.


Just like car rentals and other topics that are often repeated.

Any and all information is welcomed and when it pertains to $$, laws or just plain old honesty and principle, I think it is worth discussing.

We are not going to solve the tipping/service charge issue but being informed and up to date with current information benefits many people.


J.D.
Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: OllieEh] #113210
11/28/2016 11:58 AM
11/28/2016 11:58 AM
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Auburn, WA
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"plus the fact that most took the USD at par."
At 1.058 it's just about par already.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: SXMScubaman] #113211
11/28/2016 02:52 PM
11/28/2016 02:52 PM
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Not all do and some establishments set their own exchange rate regardless of the current listed exchange rate.


J.D.
Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: ruralcarrier] #113212
11/28/2016 03:19 PM
11/28/2016 03:19 PM
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Auburn, WA
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Simple. That's where you use your credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Looks like most cards are offering that now.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: SXMScubaman] #113213
11/28/2016 03:41 PM
11/28/2016 03:41 PM
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Not sure about "most" but I know more are getting on board with the "no foreign transaction fee" and also "no conversion fee".

What if a place is offering a better deal for "cash" or doesn't accept credit cards?


J.D.
Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: ruralcarrier] #113214
11/28/2016 03:49 PM
11/28/2016 03:49 PM
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If they don't accept CC or their cash conversion rate is off the charts in their favor I would go someplace else. To many places to go to rather than getting taken advantage of.

Re: Grand Case Dining....after the meal [Re: SXMScubaman] #113215
11/28/2016 03:57 PM
11/28/2016 03:57 PM
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Ohio
No disagreement there.


J.D.

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