Brochures of the week

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The Independent Travel
If You talk to Thomson Holidays this week, I would advise you not to ask them to "send over the brochure". Not unless you have your own paper recycling plant that is. In the last couple of days, I have received no fewer than 12 Thomson brochures for summer '98, most of them the size of chunky upmarket women's magazines, and each with subtly different characteristics.

The "superfamily" brochure for example - aimed at parents with young children - comes in a funky landscape format and is full of pictures of tanned toddlers in waterchutes, with no threateningly sexy bodies in sight. The pricing system is more complex than a VCR manual but as far as I can tell you should be able to get your partner and two children to Menorca in high summer for just over pounds 1000. That's self-catering but for a whole family it's not bad.

Thomson A La Carte on the other hand is the discreetly upmarket summer brochure with a classy looking dame in a long white dress on the front cover. Words such as "secluded" and "unspoilt" crop up frequently in the text and per-head prices hit pounds 1000 for 14 days in summer.

After this, the Club Freestyle brochure is brutally upfront about its target audience. "No screaming kids, no whining families and no doddering old fogies," it declares angrily on page three. "Everyone there is `up for it' in the broadest possible sense".

This innuendo-studded approach is borne out by the pictures inside, which suggested to me that anyone returning from a Club Freestyle holiday without a tolerably erotic experience under their belt should be able to sue under the trades descriptions act. The accommodation - studios for three people; one-bedroom apartments for four people etc - doesn't look great for erotic adventure but thank God (not) for all that beach space.

If you don't want to be branded or labelled by Thomson marketing executives, however, then why not just go for their "Summer Sun" brochure which escapes any form of characterisation other than giganticism? At 661 pages this brochure is an indiscriminate onslaught of holidays. Get one.

Thomson direct bookings, Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat & Sun 9am-6pm 0990 502550.