Beware the brochure-speak for a true guide to holidays

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The Independent Online
WHEN IT comes to picking a holiday, it is not what the brochure says, but what it does not, that can trip up the unwary, according to a new report.

True, your room may well have "stunning views", but they may be of a wasteground or concrete and scaffolding. "Ideally situated" may mean there is indeed a beach on one side - but there is also a council tip on the other. And for "lively", read "a distinct possibility of lager-swilling teenagers throwing up with disco music blaring all night in the background".

In fact, holidaymakers are being subjected to "wildly misleading" descriptions of the kind of resorts and hotels they can expect from travel companies, according to the Consumers' Association magazine, Holiday Which? It said: "We found the biggest problems are not the euphemisms and the purple prose, but the omissions and economies with the truth."

One who would agree is Peter Kilfoyle, the minister for public services. He is taking Thomson, Britain's biggest tour operator, to court to claim compensation for a family holiday allegedly ruined by a number of features not in the brochure. These included a flight being delayed and re-routed, and a half-finished hotel.

Mr Kilfoyle, whose ministerial post makes him responsible for the government charter-mark project, which sets standards for organisations, also claimed that a letter of complaint went unanswered, telephone calls were put through to disconnected lines and correspondence was lost. Holiday Which? has published a crash course in "brochure speak" to aid the unwary. This includes: "developing or fast- expanding" - noisy and dusty, with building works everywhere; "ever more popular" - even noisier and more crowded than last year; "due for completion" - still being built; "just off the main road" - traffic within a few feet.

Patricia Yates, editor of the magazine, said: "You should be able to rely on brochure descriptions, but our research has shown that frequently the brochures are keeping people in the dark." The Consumers' Association advises holiday- makers to consider making claims if their experience does not match the brochure description and to be persistent with their complaints.

Trawling through hotels and resorts, the report said: "Every now and then we come across a hotel that's beyond belief. The Horizontes Copey Resort in Varadero, Cuba, is one such place. The complaints of the guests beside the pool ranged from "It's like a council block beside the M25" to "Our holiday turned into the the biggest and most expensive disappointment we have ever had."

In Crete, it is true that the Irene Apartments in Stalis is "just off the main road", as Sunset Holidays say. But Holiday Which? says that it is only "too true - because, in fact, sitting by the pool, you are a mere 35 feet from endless streams of traffic".

The King Minos Palace hotel in Hersonissos is, according to First Choice, "just 200 metres away" from the beach and, for Sunworld, "just a 10-minute walk". In reality it is a 300-yard slog from the beach back to the hotel up a steep hill.