My wife and I will be returning to one of our favorite resorts in the Caribbean later this month, where tipping the staff is strictly verboten (we've witnessed a waitress get fired on the spot for pocketing some money left on a table). The staff is genuinely friendly and gracious, and we get treated like royalty. Though it was only our second visit last summer, many of them remembered us fondly from the year before, to the point of a couple of them even calling me out by name from across the bar/restaurant upon first sighting me!
Our favorite waiter and bartender had new additions to their families last year, so we plan to bring their babies tiny T-shirts. But one of our best experiences there has been courtesy of one of the young cooks. In charge of the beach grill at lunch, he regularly made us special (local) dishes in the main kitchen that were not on the menu and brought them to the "private island" grill for us to enjoy. While other guests had the usual fish escoveitch and jerk chicken, we were devouring the best curry goat we'd ever had. A couple of Brits eyed us enviously.
We'd like to bring this young cook a gift. I thought maybe the Forschner Victorinox 3-piece chef's set...? While it's a nice resort, it's in a third-world economy. The house knives might be decent (or they might not), but I think helping this ambitious young man by getting him a starter set of knives might be just the thing to push him forward. If we were staying in a place that allowed tipping (or on a cruise ship) I'd be giving more money than the knife set's retails price anyway.
What do you think?