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Iran, where beaches are segregated by gender and alcohol is banned, is getting its first foreign-branded seaside hotel, complete with swimming pools, bars and a spa. Melia Hotels International SA plans to open the five-star property in a 130-meter tower on the Caspian Sea as early as next year, the Spanish hotel operator stated Wednesday. It will compete with a property being built by Rotana to become the first luxury hotel operated by an overseas company in Iran since Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution forced Hyatt, Sheraton and owners of other brands to flee in 1979 .Iran will probably have almost 900 hotels within five years, compared with 768 now, according to a forecast by Euromonitor International. U.K.-based InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands, currently has no plans to expand to Iran, a spokesman said.
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