Boutique, independent hotels may be better bet than resorts connects travelers with unique resorts

By Eryka Washington - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Thinking of a "staycation"? Why go to a big resort when you can get everything you need in an intimate setting at boutique hotels close to home?

[WEB EXTRA: Click here to see more hotels]

Boutique and independent hotels have rooms to spare, running 40 percent unoccupied during the year.

"These are great rooms at great hotels and you're getting so much for your money," Roberta Seiler, who works for, said. "They don't have the power of big brands and chains behind them so they work really hard to fill those rooms."

That's where steps in, connecting those travelers with unique resorts. On the site, guests can bid on a room within a 30-day travel window.

Not sure what an independent hotel looks like? Check out the B resort, located just off Interstate 4 near Disney. The resort used to be The Royal Plaza Hotel in the '70s.

"There is a lot of history with the address and people want to come back to see the changes," said Keith Wolling, the general manager of B resort. "This wasn't a renovation, this was a full redevelopment."

Wolling calls B resort's design plan affordable luxury.

"When you walk in, you'll see the artwork in the lobby, you'll see the distinctive floors, the colors, the white and blue that creates that artistic feel and that very South Beach flavor," Wolling said.

The guest rooms are not like a typical hotel room -- from the family-style bunk beds by the pool to the mini-suite.

Each room has decorative flavor, every room is designed with a purpose.

"It gives you a little personality, sets it back a little bit and (is) a conversation piece," Wolling said.

Another unique feature is the artwork, all done by local artists. And if you like something, you can buy it. also caters to the guest looking for a smaller, more intimate experience, with boutique hotels. EO Inn and Spa, located near Lake Eola, has only 17 rooms.

"Most of the people who stay here enjoy the privacy of it all," said Eddie Cooper, the general manager of the EO Inn and Spa. "Even though we have been here for 15 years, it's still Orlando's best-kept hidden secret."

Unlike most Florida hotels, there is no pool. But guests can enjoy a dip in the Jacuzzi or treat themselves to one of the many spa services offered.

Cooper said one of the biggest perks is the inn's location.

"Everything is within walking distance, whether it's an event or restaurant or Broadway show, pretty much everything is right here," he said.

Both Wolling and Cooper call a win-win, filling those empty rooms with last-minute guests who are getting a bargain deal. does guarantee 10 percent off at partner hotels. Typically, savings will run 32 percent off on average.

By the end of the summer, plans to be in 15 cities across the country.

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