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Although times are tough for businesses that make their money from tourism, Zagat’s 2009 U.S. Hotels, Resorts & Spas guide, released last week, had some good news for avid travelers who can still afford getaways: “It’s a buyers’ market.” Apparently, in the interests of attracting business, even premium hotels are offering deep discounts.

All the same, few Vermonters are likely to be able to afford a stay at the “Top Small Hotel” named in the Zagat’s survey, Twin Farms in Barnard. Its room rates range from $1300 to $3000 per night per couple, including meals and selections from the 26,000-bottle wine cellar, as well as complimentary shuttle service to “nearby” airports in Burlington, Manchester and Boston. Wanna rent the whole property? It’s a “deal,” at $41,000 per night.

When President-elect Obama announced that his daughters would get a puppy when they moved into the White House, a Vermont company decided to assist the First Family in spoiling their new pet. Wagatha’s of Manchester Center, maker of organic “extraordinary biscuits for dogs,” has pledged to provide an entire term’s worth of tasty treats to the presidential pooch.

The goods come in flavors such as cranberry cheddar and Tuscan tomato and herb, and use human-grade ingredients. Best of all, the Obamas need not worry whether their chosen pup identifies as Christian, Muslim, agnostic or Orthodox Jew: All of Wagatha’s biscuits are certified Kosher.

First they wanted us to eat ice cream made from human milk; now they’re suggesting that meat eaters should pay more for health insurance. Last week, PETA sent a letter to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont urging the health-care provider to offer cheaper premiums to those who eschew flesh.

In case you missed it . . .

Burlingtonians are a hale and hearty bunch — or at least they see themselves that way. Obesity in Vermont is well below the national average, and thanks to their fondness for outdoor hobbies such as skiing and hiking, residents of the Queen City tend to be in good shape.

Such good shape, in fact, that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just named Burlington the healthiest city in America.

According to AP medical writer Mike Stobbe, the typical Vermont diet fosters fitness: “Though college staples like pizza are common, healthier foods are also popular. Grass-fed beef is offered in finer restaurants, vegan options are plentiful, and the lone downtown supermarket is run by a co-op successful in selling bulk rice and other healthy choices to low-income residents.”

Try to remember that while you’re stocking up on Mirabelles’ indispensable holiday cookies or that old sweet staple: Ben & Jerry’s.

Fu Da Chinese Restaurant in downtown Burlington was robbed at gunpoint last Tuesday. Luckily, no customers were present, and no one was hurt.

On the other hand, it’s probably a bad sign that the place had no customers at 8:30 on a weeknight.

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