Travel: Brochures of the week

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The Independent Travel
A FAT envelope has arrived from Forte - "The UK's leading hotel group" - containing a selection of its numerous brochures. London Leisure Breaks promotes trips to the capital; Leisure Breaks offers stays across the UK and Ireland; and Forte Heritage Leisure Breaks does much the same, except you get to stay in the more ancient properties in the company's hotel portfolio.

The latter has more money and design hours lavished on it than any of the other slimmer pamphlets. On its cover there's a misty watercolour of a lake-filled valley and the motto, "Whatever you want it to be" (personally, I'd say a beach in Australia but I'm not sure this is what they had in mind).

The company offers over 50 heritage hotels to pick from and you are assured that each is "individual in style, architecture and cuisine, yet all offer the same high levels of traditional hospitality that make Heritage the perfect escape for that special short break." This is just PR twaddle, and totally meaningless. What is traditional hotel hospitality? What is individual cuisine? Both sound very unappealing. You won't be surprised to learn that four-poster beds are also a big deal, although you may have to pay an extra pounds 7.50 for one of these "feature rooms".

But what the text may lack (and you can blame the client for demanding the banal and meaningless) the design makes up for, well almost. The brochure is simple to use whether you want to book a "Murder Weekend" or just slob out and there are some good pictures and helpful maps. And, not surprisingly, there are some wonderful hotels to tempt you (if you can just get past all the gooey adjectives).

But your quibbles about Fortespeak vanish once you pick up Sunvil UK's Discovering Historical and Cultural Britain brochure. This uses naff stock shots of Britain - a Beefeater, people playing golf by the sea (helpfully captioned "Coastal scene", cute villages, and Welsh lakes made to look Aegean blue - combined with a clumsy and crowded design, and really bland copy. "Cool Britannia" already sounds trite to me but these people haven't yet heard of it. How about a Blairite re-education programme to teach them that there's more to Britain than these over-peddled cliches?

Forte Heritage, tel 0345 404040; Sunvial UK, tel 0181 232 9788.

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