Waikiki hotel benefits from unexpected attraction

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The newly-born Hawaiian Monk Seal turned a week old on Monday.

The mom and pup are attracting people to Kaimana Beach, and a neighboring business is benefiting thanks in part to its prime view.

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The pup is visibly larger with an energy of a toddler.

It is a sight that does not get old.

The Kaimana Beach Hotel and its restaurant Hau Tree came off a busy weekend with people wanting to have an unobstructed view of the seals.

Gail Cates said the Hau Tree is one of her favorite locations but the baby seal gave her more reasons to visit.

“Mom is so tired,” Cates said. “She’s trying to get a nap and this little baby is just flipping around. She’s just like ‘just let me sleep.”

The hotel’s VIP guest experience supervisor Kyle Swardenski said the hotel is seeing more foot traffic. The seal and her pup have also unintentionally helped the property’s marketing efforts.

“We have seen a lot more reservations come in and actually on the phones a lot of people have been asking about the seals ‘oh can you see the seal from the restaurant,'” Swardenski said. “We say, ‘Yes you can’, so a lot are asking for the beachfront on the lanai.”

Officials continue to remind bystanders to be respectful of the marine animals.

State officers with the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement were called this weekend after a person was reported to have crossed the barrier and harassed the seals.

Although we are told, officers cannot issue citations without evidence and typically they need to see the violation themselves.

Officers cannot act on video or photos unless the person is identified.

The perimeter around the seals was extended by a few feet, with a volunteer continuing to remind folks to keep their distance and not disturb the endangered animals.

“We have to let them know that half the beach is cut off because of the seal,” Swardenski said. “But we definitely make sure to let them know to give them their space and their distance, and please be respectful and kind.”

Over the next several weeks, the pup will grow, more around more and go on its first swim, until it eventually swims out to open waters and leaves Kaimana Beach.

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