CASTRIES, St. Lucia -- St. Lucia's tourism figures continued upward, registering a 4.3% arrivals increase through April over the same period a year ago, including a 1.3% increase from the U.S. market. In April alone, U.S. figures jumped 7%.

Cruise passenger arrivals have spiked 24.7% thus far this year over last, according to the St. Lucia Tourist Board.

In line with the positive stats are several new hotel developments and promotions:

• Construction has begun on the new Coconut Bay Resort & Spa, scheduled to open next January on St. Lucia's south shore on the site of the former Club Med. The property will be an all-inclusive with 254 rooms.

• Allan Chastanet, owner of the 20-room Coco Kreole, a boutique-style hotel on Rodney Bay, broke ground on a $6 million Coco Palm project at Coco Kreole. The hotel will include 74 rooms, 12 suites, a conference room, board rooms, a spa, a gym, a pool area, Jacuzzis, a restaurant and cafe. Coco Palm is scheduled to open next spring.

• The 124-room Discovery at Marigot Bay, under construction, plans a November 2005 opening. The property, which bills itself as an apartment hotel, will feature contemporary interiors, specialized packages called Mind & Body Retreats, a spa, landscaped gardens, a concert pavilion, the Boudreau fine dining restaurant, Pink Snail cocktail bar, Coffee Dock casual cafe on the harbor and Hurricane Hole bar.

• Ti Kaye Village Resort in Anse Cochon will open Ti Manje, its new beachfront bar and grill, later this month. The resort also plans to build a jetty this summer to service Island Divers, its on-site dive company.

• To celebrate the island's 25th anniversary of independence from Britain this year, the St. Lucia Tourist Board offers 25% off accommodations, tours, restaurants and car rentals on its Great Deal in Paradise package for travel from Aug. 15 to Dec. 15. Booking deadline is Dec. 1.

Participants include 17 hotels, five car rental firms, eight restaurants and five on-island tour operators.

Packages may be booked through Air Jamaica Vacations, Apple Vacations, Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Liberty Travel and Travel Impressions.

For details, visit www.stlucia.org/greatdealinparadise/.

• In support of Delta's new nonstop service from Atlanta to St. Lucia, the tourist board continues its sweepstakes promotion with Delta, which awards a six-night honeymoon getaway each month through December to one military couple.

The promotion is open to all active and reserve military personnel, age 18 and over. For details, visit www.stlucia.org.

• American will add daily nonstops to St. Lucia from Miami beginning Nov. 1.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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