The building of a deluxe resort in a fictitious Malaysian country (Muang Sua) accompanied by enough intrigue to service several coup d'etats and at least one decent-sized revolution. Not only does German, Japanese, and American competition have to be out-zapped, but there are the inevitable hassles with architects, builders, and local anti-capitalistic politicians. Not to mention the gradual estrangement between the aloof, ever-traveling head of the Monarch Chain and Lily Ong Slew Phaik -- the hotel's principal investor who can seduce him into her bed but not, for instance, into substituting an opera house for the proposed gambling casino. Meanwhile a former cleaning girl is manipulating her way to control of one of the world's classiest hotels. The competent but predictable plot (the literary equivalent of staying at your average Hilton -- oops! Monarch hotel) is somewhat compensated for by the surprisingly fascinating logistics involved in running such a complicated operation: exactly 72 steps to cleaning a room, 30,000 coat hangers, 130,000 bars of soap . . . which was of course the prime secret of success of that other hotel.