Your heart goes out to the photographer who was given the task of shooting several hundred properties for the Meon Villas Private Villas with Pools brochure. They had to visit Portugal, Spain and Florida and take pictures of all these houses that look exactly the same. Each one has a whitewashed exterior, nasty white plastic chairs and sun loungers around the pool, an unpleasant-looking sofa in the tile-floored house, and a general shortage of character.

The sections on Corfu, Italy and France have richer pickings: houses that look like homes, shady gardens, views. But even in these villas, expect to spend your fortnight break sweating away on a white plastic chair. Meon claims that the demand for villas is booming and that at the top end of the market there are severe shortages, so obviously someone wants to stay in these identikit properties. Meon's average price is pounds 1,300 for a family of four staying in a four-star villa for one week.

More bleak villas are on hire from Unijet. Its latest Villas with Pools brochure is full of tiny properties surrounded by yet more plastic seating. There are a few places that look passable, but all they do is make me yearn for a decent hotel. The brochure's design is also bland and cliched: pictures of grinning reps, shots of charter planes and couples posed by their pools and looking uncomfortable. Prices are competitive, however, and many of the deals include free car rental and discounts on golfing.

True villa fans should have a look at the new Simply Ionian brochure, however. The descriptions for each house are honest yet enticing, the pictures are excellent, the properties have real character, the pools are bigger than bath tubs, the scenic shots brilliant - and plastic chairs are kept to a minimum. Heaven. It can also arrange two-centre holidays and boat and car hire.

Meon: 01730 268411; Unijet: 0990 114114; Simply Ionian: 0181 995 1121.

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