The Americas and Asia are the main engines of growth for Melia Hotels International, although the Spanish and European markets remain important also, the Spanish firm's vice president for development, Maria Zarraluqui, told Efe.

"We're seeing a lot of strength and many possibilities, both in the Americas and in Asia," Zarraluqui said.

Melia is pursuing a "two-speed" expansion strategy that is "slower" in Spain and "more aggressive and active" internationally, she added.

The hotel chain's international expansion is focusing on three main areas: the Americas, Asia and the big European capitals.

In the Western Hemisphere, where the chain has more than 60 hotels, the group to date has focused on vacation tourism, with "very strong" operations in the Caribbean markets in both Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Zarraluqui said.

"Now, we're focusing a lot on urban growth, in five main countries: We're looking at Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil," the executive said.

With regard to Asia, in the past two years Melia has doubled its portfolio and hopes, over a minimum period of three years, to have at least 30 operations going in the zone, Zarraluqui said.

"We have a lot of interest in China as well as in other locations, like Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and The Philippines," the executive said.

Regarding Europe, the focus is on three main countries - the United Kingdom, Germany and France - with Italy on a secondary level, Zarraluqui said. EFE