Tipping Your Ski or Snowboard Instructor

Posted by Kim-Marie on April 12, 2011

Didn’t know you were supposed to tip your ski instructor?  Don’t worry, you are not alone.  Many parents are not sure if they are supposed to tip their instructor, how to tip them or what is an appropriate amount.

tipping-your-instructor (tipping-your-instructor)

After interviewing snowmamas and papas, ski instructors and Mary Flinn Ware, the head of the Kid’s Mountain School at Park City Mountain Resort, here are some guidelines to help you.

1.    A tip is not expected, but it is VERY appreciated. As in any service business, a tip is a thank you for good service. Your child’s ski or snowboard instructor has been with your precious little one all day, pulling them out of the snow, encouraging them when they are scared, holding their hand, getting them hot cocoa, wiping noses and sometimes bottoms.  It’s a hard job, it’s a job worth thanking for.

2.    Yes, ski school is expensive, but the tip is not included.  Just like eating at a nice restaurant, if you can afford the meal, you can afford the tip.

3.    As a general guideline, most parents are giving $10-$20 per day for group lessons.  Just slip the instructor the folded bill when thanking them for the long day they’ve spent with your superstar.  Half that for half day lessons.  Park City Mountain Resort’s  Flinn says $5 is acceptable and would be appreciated. She adds that a tip is not mandatory.  For private lessons, give $50 for half day, $100 for a full day is typical.  Some tip more, some tip less, but everyone tips for a private lesson.

4.    If you don’t see your child’s instructor at the end of the day, you can leave a tip in at the front desk.  You can also give the tip to the Resort Services Office and they will deliver it for you.  Forgot cash?  They will even let you tip on a credit card.

5.    If you have an issue with the instructor, the ski school directors are there to help.  They are there every morning and afternoon helping the kids and instructors to get on the mountain.  Share your concerns, they can remedy any situation, but only if you make them aware of it.  

Sheri Lukas who works as a scanner at PCMR had this observation about why it’s important to thank the instructors who do so much for our kids.

 “While working as a scanner at PCMR I have seen some amazing instructors! Last week during the afternoon storm they were troopers, while most everyone else had abandoned the wind and snow blowing in their faces, the instructors were soldiering on with those kids. I heard them joking, consoling, encouraging and playing with the kids to keep them going until the end of the day. The patience and love they show for their job and teaching the children to love skiing or snowboarding is truly inspiring! I encourage parents to show appreciation and tip these hard working instructors.”


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Comment posted by Mike on January 19, 2013 5:51 AM MST

Thank you for your support of showing appreciation to the instructor who does spend time with you or your little one. Us eastern, small area instructors don't get the chance to have all day lessons. We perform our magic in 1 to 2 hours. To do that effectively we must look, evaluate, demonstrate and really reach into our bag of tricks to make a difference. So yea if we have change the way you go downhill positively I think showing your appreciation with a financial reward is definitely appreciated. After teaching for over 34 years it's a shame that we actually have to blog about this.

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Comment posted by Amy on August 28, 2012 10:22 PM MDT

As a veteran children's ski instructor I would like to thank those of you who stand in support of showing us support with whatever amount of tip you can. anything is greatly appreciated. If it is 3 dollars to help with gas and transport to the resort or 75 dollars to help pay for the class that helped us deliver a great lesson to your child, it is all appreciated. Those if you who choose not to extend that appreciation for creating a life experience for your family, that is your choice I suppose but please do not suggest to others that it is (over the top) or (too fraught) It is our lively hood. Thanks again to those of you who do support us!
P.S If you truly cannot spare a tip you can verbalize to the instructor your gratitude rather than complaining on a social forum.

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Comment posted by Caitlin on January 19, 2012 7:27 PM MST

If instructors don't get paid much that's what should change. By tipping so much that it's actually subsidising the wage bill, you're just allowing the employers to get away with paying exploitative wages. A tip should be a little thank you on top of a fair wage that reflects the value of the work.

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Comment posted by Rick Boucher on April 13, 2011 10:00 AM MDT

Thanks for mentioning that tipping is very much appreciated. I find that if the parents know that it's ok to tip, they are more than happy to thank us with a gratuity. Although the cost of the lesson may seem expensive, most instructors don't get paid all that much.

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Comment posted by Caitlin on April 12, 2011 10:26 PM MDT

Gawd American tipping culture is so over the top. $50-100 EXTRA for a private lesson? Spare me. This just makes me think I'll never do ski school in the US, only in other countries where tipping is not the norm. The tipping thing is too fraught. Why can't a price just be a price?

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Response posted by Katie on March 9, 2013 12:01 PM MST

I'm very upset to realise that tipping is the norm in the US. Let me explain....I'm a Brit and we rarely tip and if we do it is probably under 10%, just like Europeans too. The prices charged are the actual prices and staff are paid accordingly. Obviously travelling to the Sates we know that you tip more and will make an extra effort in restaurants and at hotels. I never realised that it was expected at ski school too. We just got back from a trip to Smuggs, VT. We had seen a sign about tipping being appreciated and were very happy with our daughters instructor so we tipped $20. We thought we were being generous but now are upset to know we were being miserly as she had 4 days of lessons.


Response posted by Joe on August 19, 2012 4:40 PM MDT

Good Caitlin, please do not ever do ski school in the US ever. Instructing on the hill is a very difficult and challenging job that takes many hours of training and commitment to get good at. Not only braving the elements but figuring out how each person learns in different ways. If you aren't going to appreciate all of the hard work that goes into a lesson whether it is for yourself or your child, don't bother.


Response posted by Lucy on February 21, 2012 10:31 PM MST

Seriously Caitlin? So you don't tip when you eat out then? or tip when you buy drinks at a bar? or for someone parking your car like a valet? Or for room service in a hotel? A bell man? Wow. I would like to mention none of these jobs are actually giving you a skill that you didn't have before....A ski/snowboard Instructor is actually teaching your children or yourself a skill you didn't have before, so why wouldn't you show appreciation? That is just rude! Not to mention that people in this industry are professionals who pay to be members of a industry called Professional ski instructors of america. Instructors have to pay a yearly membership fee, along with keeping there skills fresh and current, they have to attend 12 hours of clinics which cost money. then to become certified they have to work extremely hard to pass the qualification process so they can better there skills. again this all cost money. I think you really should have a harder look at what goes on behind the fee's of a lesson. Ski resort chair lifts cost a lot of money to run everything does when your on a mountain. Convenience of restaurants on the mountain, groomed trails...terrain parks...ski patrol? all of these things add up and I'm pretty sure the lesson income the mountain make goes towards the balancing out of the a lot of cost to running a resort along with everything else the mountain provides to make it easier for you...the guest. Guest servie is their primary goal. So why wouldn't you tip their primary guest service representative the instructor?


Response posted by Adam on September 2, 2011 10:32 AM MDT

Well you have to understand that a ski instructor is only making 8-13 dollars for ever hour on their lesson. Where the rest of the money goes, i'm not to sure. But instructors do really appreciate when they get tipped.


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