THE Meridien Group, the hotel subsidiary of Air France, has returned to the expansion trail with a vengeance after a relatively quiet spell in the past year. The group has kept a low profile since the two properties it was managing in Tsim Sha Tsui and at the airport were taken back under the wing of the owners, the Regal Hotel group. Meridien said while it would like to have a property in Hong Kong, it had to be realistic about the economics. ''It is very difficult and competitive to have a hotel in Hong Kong,'' said Peter Zenneck, the group's Asia-Pacific vice-president for development. While the group considers whether to replace the two hotel properties in Hong Kong, it has been active in expanding in other parts of Asia-Pacific. Meridien chairman and chief executive Jean-Didier Blanchet said the group had clinched management contracts in Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and New Caledonia as part of its expansion plans in the region. Its biggest project is the Le Meridien Grand Pacific Tokyo, a massive hotel of 900 guest-rooms with 22 meeting and banquet rooms, the largest of which will be 3,000 sq metres. The property is in Tokyo Teleport town, a new metropolis designed to turn Tokyo into a 21st century city and the world's centre for finance and commerce. In New Caledonia, Le Meridien Noumea is scheduled to open on December 31. The property will be Noumea's only deluxe resort with 250 guest-rooms and suites with commanding views of the ocean. In Indonesia, the group has signed an agreement with the country's Bakrie group to operate a luxury ocean-front resort in Bali with 300 rooms and villas sited on 120 hectares. The hotel is scheduled to open next year. In Thailand, a new 360-room luxury hotel in Bangkok is scheduled to open in late 1996. The 34-storey Meridien President includes office space and a 6,000 sq metre fitness centre. Mr Blanchet said negotiations were also under way for hotel projects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. He said Vietnam would be one of the hottest markets for the next five to 10 years with business travellers accounting for up to 70 per cent of visitors to the country. Despite the political difficulties in Cambodia, the group is keen to set up a hotel in Siem Reap province where the famous Angkor Wat temple is located. He described the deal in Cambodia as ''within sight''. Meanwhile, according to a report from Bloomberg, the Accor and Forte hotel chains are vying to acquire part or all of Air France's majority stake in Meridien. Air France's board is expected to decide which of the two hotel companies will control Meridien at a meeting scheduled for September 14. Accor has offered 1.6 billion French francs (about HK$2.29 billion) for a 40 per cent stake in the hotel group and a continuing partnership with Air France. Forte has bid 1.8 billion francs to acquire outright the airline's entire 57.3 per cent stake in Meridien.