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The Independent Travel
YOU'VE JUST got over this year's family holiday and it's time to plan the next. Choosing a family holiday - investing an often significant amount of hard-earned cash into entertaining a disparate group of people - is no mean feat.

Badly organised, overcrowded brochures are often where things start to go wrong, even before you've booked your two weeks in the sun. One of the better ones is Thomson's Super Family Summer '99 brochure, which features all the traditional destinations for a family package holiday: the Balearics, Spain

and the Algarve. The layout is sensible - save the second-rate cartoon characters which make inane appearances throughout - and the important information is given in easy-to-digest formats. Anything too involved gets relegated to the back of the brochure with clearly marked page references.

A bit of corporate back-scratching is used to assure parents that they are dealing with "names you can trust", with the logos of child-oriented companies plastered over the introductory pages.

Nothing that innovative, but comprehensible stuff.

Pick-me-up value: 5/10. User-friendly value: 8/10. Thomson (tel: 01509 238238).

MUTANT teddy bears on skis are surely the stuff that children's nightmares are made of. Hardly the best cover picture for a family ski-specialist's brochure, yet that is exactly what appears on the front of Ski Esprit's winter 1998/99 brochure. With a toddler in hand, the monster bear makes his way across the front cover to appear regularly on inside pages, even cropping up in a child's cot.

Esprit's "childcare guarantee" reassures parents that "reimbursement of the childcare fee" is offered if they are "dissatisfied with an aspect of the childcare". But the facilities look excellent. Icons mark nurseries, children's clubs and different standards of ski schools.

A pink insert, looking disturbingly like a tax form, provides the "small details that matter": prices, booking conditions, insurance etc. However, boxes in the main brochure give prices (in francs) of ski school, lift passes and equipment. Confusion ensues: jumping from brochure to insert, trying to juggle exchange rates, and work out what you and your wee ones will be getting is enough to give a bear a sore head.

Pick-me-up value: 3/10. User-friendly value: 5/10. Ski Esprit (tel: 01252 616789).