Towel Folding Is A Marketable Job Skill In Mexico

Admit it, you love it when your hotel provides those cute little critters

There is no better way to start your vacation than in a hotel. It is wonderful to nestle into your cozy room after the excitement of arriving at your destination. A beautiful view of the ocean, fresh ocean air; a clean, bright space gives you a sense of peace and relaxation.

And, it is the friendly touches and details, like the figures made with towels, that truly make you feel welcome and special. The ancestor of towel folding is the ancient Japanese art of origami, or folding paper.

towels.JPGThe exact originator of towel origami is unknown, but the popularity of these twisted animals is often attributed to Carnival Cruise Lines. Towel animals are perhaps the descendants of handkerchief animals or napkin folds. Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney Hotels and Holland America Line cruises will often place towel animals on a guest’s bed as part of their nightly turndown service. 

We spoke to one young hotel maid, Emilia, who has been working in hotels for seven years, about her towel-folding skills. Not all hotels train their personnel to create these handmade courtesy touches for their guests. It was her towel folding that helped her get hired at one of the resorts; it was not easy to get the job without a recommendation from a hotel employee and she didn’t know anybody who worked there. But once they saw how she could fold a towel, they were sold.

Her boss encourages her to create her towel art especially when guests come from Asia or are on their honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary. She knows how to make elephants, geese, cakes, ducks, dogs, turtles and chickens. Even though she is petite, she has strong enough hands and fingers to shape, fold and twist bath towels both large and small into ephemeral forms. (I have tried myself, and it is not easy). She also creates neckties and other pretty details with toilet paper. Once in a while, guests tip her, usually about $1 to $5 USD. She remembers one day when she got $100 from a happy bridegroom. He was enchanted to find two geese towel figures kissing at the top of the bathtub. He was so in love with his bride and so appreciative of the smooching geese that he phoned the manager and thanked him. He then asked to meet the woman who had created the figures. Emilia was so grateful to receive thanks from the groom, congratulations from management, and the $100. (Her salary is about $76 a week plus tips.)

So the next time you get one of these special creations, be sure to tip the person that made them, and express your gratitude to them and the management. It’s little touches like this that make your vacation extra special.