When I think about indulging in some spa therapy, I close my eyes and imagine Bali - its lush tropical gardens and cheap, all-day treatments. Singapore, certainly, does not come to mind. For one thing, it is expensive, with a typical treatment starting at S$100-150 ($475-$712); about the same as a budget flight to Bali. And second, let's face it: Singapore's service culture still leaves a lot to be desired. Yet, the spa business is big here, worth about S$35 million a year, and it is booming. Peter Sng, president of the Spa Association Singapore, estimates that revenues from the local spa industry have risen 30 per cent since 2003, and could increase by a further 12-15 per cent annually over the coming years. More surprisingly, most of the clients are not rich European tourists, but Singaporeans (70 per cent), proving that locals also know how to enjoy life's little luxuries. But a survey last year, released by independent research company Intelligent Spas, showed that the local spa market is saturated, with more than 110 venues offering 'authentic professional spa treatments'; a number that rises to well above 200 if you include small beauty salons that offer some kind of spa experience (and not counting the 'massage parlours' that offer other pleasures). This might explain why Singaporean spas are now keen on expanding abroad quickly. In the past two weeks, several deals have been announced, and Mr Sng said there were 'many requests for Singapore [companies] to go abroad' because of their well-perceived brand image - and quality counts. Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts has just opened an Angsana Spa in Cape Town's deluxe Vineyard Hotel, South Africa, while it has also announced a large deal in Dubai to operate and manage the planned luxury resort and spa of Al Areen. Meanwhile, Japan is fast proving to be the Shangri-la for the Singaporean spa industry. The local St Gregory Spa chain, which already has two spas in Japan, has tie-ups with three foreign investors (Japanese Nissen Real Estate, Azveil Hotel and Spa, and Korean Serendipity), 'licensing' their name for new spas to be opened there - including one in the Tokyo Disneyland. The chain will help its affiliates 'to uphold its brand image'. Spacare International, which owns local spa brand The Aspara, also plans to open up to 60 spas and eight academies in Japan. The move will make it the largest spa company in Japan. With these expansions abroad, Singapore is proving once again that even when you are small, you can think big.