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Chicago Hotel Helps Clients Beat BlackBerry Addiction

BlackBerry addicts have a crack at freedom when they check into one Chicago hotel: the manager will put the communications devices and others like them under lock and key for guests who want a break.

Rick Ueno, general manager of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel, said the program which began on Wednesday grew out of his own personal BlackBerry addiction. His one-step recovery was switching to a regular cell phone.

"I was really addicted to my BlackBerry. I had an obsession with e-mail," he told Reuters. "Morning and night. There came a time when I didn't think it was healthy ... I quit cold turkey."

He believes guests might want to try the same thing for a day or two anyway, so they can concentrate on meetings, business and socializing while at the hotel.

Ueno said he would take personal charge of any BlackBerrys or related devices guests want to surrender and place them in his office locked up until their return is requested. There is no charge.

"I run a hotel with over 900 employees and thousands of guests. I think I'm more effective. I feel better. I sleep better. My family likes it," he said of his post-BlackBerry life.

The popular hand-held devices, sometimes called "CrackBerries" because users become so reliant on them, are made by Canadian-based Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM).

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