[email protected] Internet Serves as a Halfway House for Web Addicts

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BY KRISTIN O'MEARA

Reed Travel Features

ORANJESTAD -- If your client is too Web-addicted to risk a few days on the beach in Aruba, here is how to overcome that frightening objection: Send him to [email protected] Internet.

That's right, the island is no longer safe from the insidious reach of the World Wide Web.

At the cyber cafe, which is located next to the Aruba Sonesta Resort opposite the entrance to the cruise terminal, visitors can check their E-mail, grab a quick teleconference or play a game of Nintendo.

According to co-owner Hermand Richardson, the cafe has done a respectable business with tourists since it opened in September 1996.

Travelers, especially those from cruise ships, he said, regularly stop in to check their E-mail.

"We had a group in last week with 40 or 50 people who met through the Internet, decided to take a cruise and then came in together to pick up their E-mail while in port."

Originally, the cafe opened as a resource for island business people who wanted to do teleconferencing, but word has spread, thanks to its location in a prime tourist area.

The cafe also offers a full complement of video games, including Nintendo 64 and virtual-reality games.

"We have a good number of kids who come in for the games," Richardson said.

Others with more serious matters in mind can park themselves at one of seven on-site personal computers, with full Internet access, he said.

Access to the Internet costs $10 per hour, and users purchase time on a reprogrammable debit card; fees for games vary.

More mundane business services also are available, such as faxing, photocopying, laser printing and color printing.

As they browse the Web, visitors also can drink flavored coffee and other beverages, nibble on desserts or stock up on souvenirs, such as T-shirts and caps.

Parents who wish to unload the kids while they shop nearby are advised that the atmosphere is clean and sober: No smoking and no alcohol allowed.

[email protected] Internet is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Richardson said.

For more information, visit the cafe's Web site at http://www.cybercafe.aw.

To visit the cafe in person, head for Royal Plaza No. 204 L.G. Smith Blvd. 64 in Oranjestad.

For further information, call (011) 297-8 24500 or fax (011) 297-8 28534.

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