WITH a few exceptions, even the tardiest tour operators have now produced their brochures for the coming season. The better organised among you will no doubt have made your bookings. But mid-October is about the time when skiers like me, who hate the idea of committing themselves, start to feel the pressure and grudgingly apply themselves to the task of decision-making. But which brochures to focus on?

My database of active tour operators - ones who answer letters or phone calls - now numbers about 150 firms. Before you try a comprehensive trawl, I offer my personal top 20 - top not in quality, necessarily, but in having something special to offer.

Chalets galore: Bladon Lines. For chalet holidays, you cannot ignore the biggest name, with chalets in 16 resorts and a wide range of prices, with peak weeks ranging from pounds 366 to pounds 619.

Chalets in compelling resorts: Ski West. There is not one resort in this brochure that does not quicken the pulse: St Anton, Courmayeur, Zermatt, Val d'Isere . . .

Chalets in Val d'Isere: YSE. Mr Yates-Smith and Ms Eadon have survived their first year of operation in Val - not to anyone's great surprise, given their depth of experience in other companies - and continue to offer an attractive range of chalets.

Smart chalets: Ski Scott Dunn. The overall quality of chalet accommodation marks out this image-conscious operation. Its US resorts - Jackson Hole, Taos and Snowbird - are three of the best.

Sheer dynamism: Crystal. No part of the ski market is safe from Crystal's vigorous intrusion. Its brochure always has something new. I am not sure Liechtenstein will prove an unreserved success, but the massive expansion of Italian destinations is welcome.

Chalets for children: Ski Esprit. No 'we have a floating nanny who works where needed', or 'we have excellent local contacts and can arrange child care to suit you'. This operation - covering eight big-name ski areas - is all about family holidays, with in-chalet creches everywhere.

Hotels for children: Made to Measure. The MTM special family holidays brochure is not out yet, but the advance copy suggests it will be required reading for hotel- oriented families: it notes the 16 hotels in the Alps with kindergartens, plus a couple in the States.

Club chalets: Mark Warner. The hotel-sized club chalet (or Clubhotel) is no longer exclusive to Mark Warner, but the company has some of the most distinctive - three with sizeable creches, two acting as pivots of the night-life in Val d'Isere and Verbier.

Chalets in Meribel: Meriski. Not the only Meribel specialist, but the one with the most distinctive appeal, thanks in part to some characterful chalets.

Chalets in Courchevel: Le Ski. Courchevel's biggest chalet operator (11 properties) is hardly a household name, but has been there for 10 years.

Back door to Alpe d'Huez: Ski Peak. I am a fan of the Alpe d'Huez ski area, but not of Alpe d'Huez. Solution? Stay in Vaujany which, for the British package buyer, still seems to mean stay with Ski Peak. Chalets and hotels.

Other back-door French resorts: Ski-Tal. Want to ski the Three Valleys from St Martin de Belleville; Les Arcs from Peisey- Nancroix; Saalbach from Leogang; La Plagne from Montalbert; Flaine from Les Carroz? This is the brochure you need.

Off piste, Chamonix-style: Fresh Tracks. Of the companies riding the find-your-freedom-in-the- powder wagon, Fresh Tracks is about the most impressive. Four grades of holiday, all led by British or French instructors or qualified mountain guides.

Switzerland: Swiss Travel. 'Number 1 to Switzerland', says the cover. The range of resorts is the key attraction, including Adelboden, Engelberg and Grachen.

Switzerland with a twist: Powder Byrne. Most of the Swiss holidays Powder Byrne sells are hotel- based packages. But it offers good levels of local service and, as its name suggests, it does off-piste tuition, too, in small groups.

America: Ski the American Dream. One of the pioneers in selling to Brits the dream of feather-light powder snow and customer-oriented resorts. It now offers 20 resorts in seven states.

Superchalets: The Ski Company Ltd. As described last week, exceptionally civilised chalets sold at exceptionally high prices.

Old-fashioned luxury: Inghams. Inghams' Luxury Ski brochure catalogues a cross-section of the glossiest hotels in the Alps - and one or two in Vail.

Austria, especially for groups: Ski Partners. Hate the brochure, love some of the little resorts such as Lofer and Maria Alm.

Self-drive to French apartments: Brittany Ferries. Portsmouth to Caen overnight is my favourite way to cross the Channel. At the other end, BF has a good range of resorts.

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