IF YOU can't judge a book by its cover, you certainly can a travel brochure: the Trips Worldwide brochure for Mexico, Central America and the Alternative Caribbean is vivid proof of this. With its scaly-textured purple cover and smiley lizard logo, this brochure looks promisingly unconventional, if not "dramatically different", as the cover proclaims. The new-agey illustrations of tropical fish and Mayan temples look as if a somewhat exhilarated art student has been let loose with a pack of children's crayons, but the result is surprisingly refreshing. There are the obligatory picture-postcard snaps of beautiful beaches and grinning locals, but on the whole, the design does not rely on them. Rather than being aimed at backpackers, as I at first thought, these tailor-made holidays are aimed at people "just like you", according to the inside front cover. The list of "just like you" types which follows is curious: teachers, naturalists, honeymooners, young people, octogenarians and... lottery winners. A two-week minimum tour is recommended in the "Trip Planner" pull-out section, which also contains all the nitty-gritty details - prices, itineraries, etc. This is a fine idea (if it hadn't been printed in an illegible lurid orange) as it leaves the main brochure unfettered. The result is an inspiring travel guide book-style read.
Trips Worldwide (tel: 0117 987 2626).
Pick-me-up value: 7/10; User-friendly value: 7/10.
MOVING from the alternative to the more traditional, Inntravel's Shortbreaks brochure, entitled Auberges of Character & Quality, covers Belgium, Holland, Spain and Italy. The classic middle-class family holiday in a French auberge or Tuscan villa has been tailored to suit the weekend-break market. Photographs of rural idylls feature prominently on the brochure's neatly designed pages, with the aim of convincing readers that complete R&R is possible on a snatched weekend far away from the rigours of city life. Transport details (motorways, rail and ferry schedules, as most of the holidays are self-drive) are supplied to help keep journey times to an absolute minimum, and, judging by the quantity of photos of tables groaning with wonderful-looking food, who knows, perhaps the company rep even does the shopping and cooking? The weary urbanite can only hope.
Inntravel (tel: 01653 628811).
Pick-me-up value 6/10; User-friendly value 8/10.