Viva Las Vegas
TV personality (and new MidWeek columnist) Sebastian Rodriguez is just the man to welcome locals back to the world’s entertainment capital.
It’s no surprise that Las Vegas is known as Hawai‘i’s ninth island. From captivating casinos to sensational shows and delicious dining options, there’s something for everyone — including locals, who have been flocking to the entertainment capital of the world for decades.
But during a time where travelers might be hesitant to hop on a plane, how can Las Vegas fanatics get their fix from more than 2,600 miles away?
Enter MidWeek‘s new columnist, Sebastian Rodriguez, whose inaugural article can be found on page 7.
In “Ninth Island Connection,” readers can look forward to news about everything that’s happening in Hawai‘i’s favorite mainland city.
“We’re going to bring people details on what’s new in Vegas: favorite local restaurants, big jackpot winners from Hawai‘i, the latest casino games, the latest shows,” shares Rodriguez. “So, when folks are planning their trips, we hope our column helps them.”
And, Rodriguez is the right man for the job. He hosts a weekly Las Vegas lifestyle TV show of the same title that shares all the goings on in downtown, along The Strip and more.
“We do our best to feature local businesses with local ties,” says Rodriguez. “It’s fun, and we want to do our part to help them.”
The idea for the show Ninth Island Connection started two years ago after Rodriguez and wife Kristine returned to Hawai‘i after a Las Vegas vacation.
“Like a lot of people, we’d come back and miss it,” recalls Rodriguez, who also still runs his Ninth Island Marketing company.
That’s when the wheels started turning for a TV show that speaks specifically to a Hawai‘i audience seeking to learn more about the new attractions, eateries and things to do in the ever-busy city.
Rodriguez is the face of the show as host, but behind the scenes Kristine, formerly a social worker at Hawai‘i Youth Correctional Facility, is hard at work contacting clients, coordinating interviews, getting B-roll and pictures — basically doing everything that makes the show run smoothly. Though mostly doing work in the background, viewers can still expect to see Kristine on the show, as she joins Rodriguez for fun adventures around Las Vegas. Viewers may also look forward to seeing recurring guests like real estate agent Randy Hatada, who originally is from Hawai‘i Island.
“She’s such a huge part of the show,” Rodriguez says of his wife, noting that they went into this endeavor with zero production or TV experience.
“And Randy, he just knows everyone in Vegas. Anyone local, Randy knows them. He’s been helping families relocate from Hawai‘i to Vegas.”
With a growing fanbase locally and in Las Vegas, Rodriguez and Kristine relocated to Green Valley Ranch in Henderson on Thanksgiving to dedicate more time to the show. While they’ll miss their favorite local places like 9th Ave Rock House and Kaimana Beach on O‘ahu, the move was the best choice to keep Ninth Island Connection going strong — both for print and television.
“It’s hard to create a weekly show from Hawai‘i when the content is in Vegas,” shares Rodriguez.
But Hawai‘i will always have a special place in their hearts, especially since daughter Anais — a recent University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa grad — still lives here and works for a local PR company. Now, with the operation solely in Vegas, Rodriguez and Kristine are in the heart of where all the action takes place. They note the downtown area as one of their favorites, citing the thriving arts district reminiscent of Kaka‘ako.
“There are also a lot of small-business owners and you really have this sense of community supporting these local businesses,” Rodriguez explains.
Visitors wanting to feel even more at home in Las Vegas can stop in at the California Hotel & Casino — those 21 and older can play on the old slot machines that take coins — or head to the classically remodeled El Cortez Hotel and Casino.
Fans of The Strip, meanwhile, can take in the observation wheel and try ziplining at The Linq Promenade (another one of the Rodriguezes’ favorites) and visit the restaurants and shops in the area. It’s cool tidbits like these that readers and viewers can expect.
“The content will be different,” Rodriguez assures, so Vegas-lovers can get their fill in both mediums.
Despite travel coming to a halt for most of 2020, Ninth Island Connection has kept viewers entertained, growing by leaps and bounds since its first episode Feb. 26. The original plan was to air Wednesdays on K5, but over the course of about six months filled a niche here locally and in Nevada. Now, Ninth Island Connection airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on K5 and 2 p.m. Sundays on KGMB, as well as three times a week on Cox Cable in Vegas.
It’s proof that Hawai‘i will always love Las Vegas, even from afar.
“People are home, people are worrying, and we give them a little mini vacation through our TV show every week,” Rodriguez adds.
Learn more about the show online at ninthislandconnection.com.