Cap Maison Rock PoolSt. Lucia appears well-positioned for a strong tourism year, based on a 20% jump in first-quarter stayover arrivals compared with the same period a year ago.

Top source markets include the U.S., which registered a 9% increase, and the U.K., which reported a 30% increase.

In addition, increased airlift, a surge in hotel openings and renovations as well as new attractions and tours are contributing to the island's economic growth.

"We will continue to strive to increase arrivals from major source markets and are committed to further improving the destination with more air access and enhanced properties and products," said Louis Lewis, director of the St. Lucia Tourist Board.

Among the island's developments:

• JetBlue will offer daily nonstop service between New York Kennedy and Hewanorra Airport from June 28 through Sept. 4.

• Blu St. Lucia, a new addition to Harlequin Hotels & Resorts' portfolio, opened in April following a refurbishment and upgrade. The property offers room-and-breakfast plans as well as all-inclusive meal programs. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, cafe, a pool, the Alaia Spa, a kids club, and a fitness center.

• Ladera Resort celebrates its 20th anniversary with five new, one-bedroom hilltop suites, each with an open living room and private infinity pool.

Also new is a fitness room, a private retreat area overlooking the Caribbean Sea and the Pitons for couples massage treatments.

The resort's Dasheene restaurant is hosting guest chefs from the Caribbean, U.S. and Europe throughout the year.

• Cap Maison resort unveiled its Rock Pool adjacent to Rock Maison, which lies directly below the Cliff at Cap restaurant. Rock Maison is a wooden deck built on a rocky outcrop, surrounded on three sides by the sea. Guests access Rock Maison by a wooden staircase, while drinks travel down a zipline to the deck below.

Three carved-out "ice buckets" nestle in the rocks, awaiting a bottle of bubbly.

• Boucan Hotel & Restaurant, originally named Hotel Chocolat when it opened last year, has been rebranded and renamed. The 14-unit boutique property is on Rabot Estate, a working cocoa plantation, and offers an infinity pool, restaurant, spa, walking trails and classes in chocolate-making.

• The Our Planet science and learning center at La Place Carenage in Castries features an Immersion Tunnel where visitors learn about Earth and its climate; a "learning zone" where guests can play interactive games; and a special-effects theater where visitors experience extreme weather events.

Admission is $35 for adults, $25 for kids 12 and younger; proceeds support local environmental projects.

For Caribbean and Mexico news, follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.

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