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Brochures Of The Week

THIS WEEK, brochures travel from the old world to the new with Western & Oriental's The Subcontinent brochure and Virgin's California Star Collection brochure.

The former brochure is resplendent with old-world romance and its cover features a Kipplingesque scene: a picture of elephants and locals alongside the Ganges, painted in soft pastel. The title and text are minimal and are presented in a tastefully designed box.

It is all very "19th-century traveller", even the map inside looks like it was drawn by one of the Victorian era's great explorers. In keeping with this nostalgic style, the company is a leading expert on "Heritage Hotels" and the brochure has four pages crammed with pictures of unexplored places in India - former Maharaja's palaces, castles and forts.

Neighbouring countries Bhutan and Sri Lanka are finally reached after the brochure treks through some of the far-flung mountain areas of northern India. Here modern maps, or, indeed, any maps would be useful to indicate the travel destination. But probably during most of these holidays the only map you will need is the one showing how to get to the luxurious pool/bar in your glorious old hotel.

Virgin's California Star Collection brochure delivers a slice of gaudy Americana even before you turn the first page. The front cover features the ubiquitous Marilyn impersonator blowing a pouty kiss, with the famous Hollywood sign as a backdrop, surrounded by other celebrity doubles, including Clint Eastwood and Laurel and Hardy.

Doing a quick "flesh" inventory of the brochure reveals, in true Californian style, endless bronzed thighs and taught tummies all topped with toothsome grins - hardly the "Virgin Territory" that the cover's catchphrase advertises.

Sitting on snugly on the inside cover is a picture of the Virgin king himself, Richard Branson, complete with modest smile - the British version of the American entrepreneurial dream. He greets his customers with a personally signed note: "hope to see you there".

Along with various types of holiday covering a wide range of destinations throughout California down to Mexico, Branson has dreamt up additional services, such as special rates at a pet kennel so that your pets may also have a glamorous holiday.