If I had a million dollars



Dating expert Daryn Tufts shows a fun time can be had on a million … and also $100

By Daryn Tufts, for utahvalley360.com

Illustrations by Aaron Taylor

I FIRST ARRIVED IN UTAH, MORE YEARS AGO THAN I’D CARE TO ADMIT, as a college student, where I learned the art of dating below the poverty line. Now several years later, I’m still dating — although fortunately my budget has improved slightly.

I’ve learned there’s a lot of fun to be had in this great state, whether you have $1 million to spend or $100.

And I’ll prove it.

Now, I admit that I may not know what it’s like to have millions of dollars at my disposal … but I do know what it is like to fantasize about having millions of dollars at my disposal. So I think I know a little something about living like a big shot and a budget shot.

I’ve taken one week and outlined two very different proposals:

“How to have fun in Utah with $1 million” and …

“How to have fun in Utah with $100.”

I’ve planned the week and it’s just you, dear reader, and myself that get to have all the fun.

The money is different, the activities are different … but there is one rule that stays the same — both weeks must be spent entirely in Utah. I wanted to see if both Utah and I are up to the challenge.

Read on and see how much fun we can have together in Utah.



I thought I’d kick off the week by staying right here in Utah Valley – and what better place to experience local fun than Sundance Mountain Community?

We’ll spend a day horseback riding the Great Western Trail with a professional guide ($102.50 each) and spend the evening dining on a four-course meal in the Tree Room, Sundance’s most elegant restaurant.

This isn’t a week to be dining with crowds, so I’m going to offer the Tree Room a generous amount to have the restaurant to ourselves that evening ($50,000 plus food and expenses).

After dinner, we’ll head on over to the Sundance Screening Room, a state-of-the art movie theater available for rent ($450) and, being that we are in Redford’s place, watch my favorite Redford movie, “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.” I’ll also make Redford an offer he can’t refuse (say $50,000?) to watch the film with us and offer his version of a live commentary (what can I say? DVD has spoiled me forever). And then there’s nothing to do but head up the mountain and retire to a five-bedroom mountain home ($1,600 per night), complete with Jacuzzi, spectacular view and personal masseuse ($200 per hour) to ease out those riding muscles.

DAY TOTAL: $102,655

WEEK TOTAL: $102,655


Sundance can also be done on the most meager of budgets – we’ll just have to sleep at our homes. We’ll spend the day hiking the Stewart Falls Trial for absolutely, positively nothing.

The hiking is mild, the scenery is gorgeous and our destination is the self-titled waterfall. When we’re done, we’ll hop in a car and head up the mountain. The Alpine Loop ($5) provides one of the most spectacular views of Mt. Timpanogos we can get without bursting a lung hiking a bazillion miles.





Theater night. No week of fun would be complete without it, and “Boheme” is currently at Salt Lake City’s Capitol Theater.

Let’s start with dinner at La Caille, Sandy’s famous French restaurant. Ordinarily, reserving the entire restaurant would require $10,000 and no less than 300 people. Since we’ll be dining alone, let’s up the ante and offer La Caille the Sundance deal: $50,000 plus food and expenses. Then, it’s off to the theater.

I’ve always wanted to have my own private showing, and the only way to do that is to buy out every seat in the house (about $85,000). So, spread out your legs and get comfy — there’s plenty of room at this show.

DAY TOTAL: $135,000

WEEK TOTAL: $237,655


Provo-ians know that Tuesday is always a special occasion.

It’s the magical day where admission for all showings at the local Movies 8 changes from $1.50 to a measly 50 cents. At that price, we can both see a movie for a buck. It’s no Broadway musical, but it is our choice of eight movies in that price range. Even with a double feature we are in no danger of exceeding a whopping $2. And right across the parking lot is Cafe Rio, home of long lines but healthy portions of mouthwatering burritos and salads (about $15 for two meals and sodas). The night is complete.





Southern Utah has a unique beauty in contrast to the majestic mountains we’ve got up here. My dream week would not be complete without it, but there’s no way I’m driving three hours with this kind of cash to spend. Instead, I’ve chartered a top-of-the-line private plane. In moments we’ll be in Moab hiking the trails or Arches National Park ($10 per car), my personal favorite hiking spot in Utah. These are the same rocks we saw Tom Cruise dangle from during Mission Impossible 2. Now, we may have no way of making our own Hollywood blockbuster, but we can afford a first class documentation of the experience. Utah is home of many great production facilities that produce all kinds of films and TV shows. So we’ll hire a professional crew ($100,000) to come with us to Moab and film our day. We won’t be dangling from any cliffs, but our day will be immortalized with our very own customized, Hollywood quality movie. We’re talking professional direction, 35MM film and customized music.

TOTAL: $115,000

WEEK TOTAL: $352,655


For under $100, we’ll have to settle for our local green mountains. Fortunately, they’re pretty spectacular. We can head up to Rock Canyon in east Provo and spend the afternoon exploring. Price: Zip. Zero. Zilch. We can’t afford a film crew, but we can find a disposable camera – with flash! – for around $5. And Wal-Mart in Orem will develop those suckers for around $8 in just under an hour. It’s no Hollywood movie, but our day can still be immortalized in a personalized little scrapbook.





Lake Powell. Of course. Must not forget Lake Powell. Power boat ($266 rental), jet skis ($255 each) and an Admiral Class houseboat ($3,158) to lounge and launch from. We board our private plane ($975 per hour) once more and head for a day of fun and sun at a lake like no other. That night, we fly back to Salt Lake City and relax. To unwind, I’d prefer to grab a suite at the Grand Hotel America ($470), order in room service ($100 or so, depending on our appetites) and turn in early. After all, we’ve still got a couple of days left. Better rest up.

TOTAL – $8,404

WEEK TOTAL: $361,059


Some H20 is cheaper than others. We’ll find a pool. Any pool. We’ll be sneaky if we have to – you know what I’m talking about. We’ll lounge. Swim. Tan. Play Marco-Polo. You may have forgotten how much fun that can be, but I remember how free it can be. With the money saved that day, we’ll head just south to Springville and the Art City Trolley for dinner.

Patrons sit in an authentic Salt Lake City Trolley car from days of old as they eat. It’s great food and an atmosphere that is uniquely Utah.Plus, I love their buffalo wings.





Today is the biggie. No spending spree would be complete without a day of shopping. So let’s rent a BMW and drive up to Park City. I’ll give you your allowance and we’ll go our separate ways for The Mother Of All Shopping Sprees. We’ll each have $100,000 to spend any way we’d like. We’ll start at the factory outlet stores, then head to Main Street and the rest of the town. At the end of the day, we’ll have dinner on Main Street (say $100) and brag about our purchases. If done correctly, we’re going to need to rent trucks to help haul back the results of our day.

After dinner, it’s Comedy Night. I have a great love for improvisation so I’m going to give myself the ultimate indulgence by bringing in the best — Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie and Chip Esten from ABC’s “Who’s Line Is It, Anyway?”

They’re all available for hire so I’ll negotiate their fees and rent the club Harry O’s (we’ll offer ‘em $10,000) for a night and have our very own private display of improvisation from the masters themselves.

All that’s left is to retire in our suite at The Deer Valley Mountain Resort and enjoy a restful and pampered night ($630 for deluxe, four bedroom accommodations).

TOTAL: $504,830

WEEK TOTAL: $865,889


Great improvisation can also be found cheaply in Utah Valley. I recommend we hit ComedySportz on Center Street in Provo. The show features extremely talented local comedians that take your suggestions and both blow your mind and tickle your funny-bone with their improvisational skills (much like a family-clean version of “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”). It’s utterly hilarious and at $8 a ticket, it’s the least expensive improvisation show in town.





Music Night. I’m a fan of local favorites Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband. They have a unique, eclectic sound and are great live. Plus, I’ve always wanted to take my favorite local band and have my very own, private rock spectacular. So let’s rent out the Delta Center ($20,000) and invite some friends. It’ll be a rock show of extreme proportions – minus all of those annoying crowds. Besides, having a front row seat in the Delta Center is, for me, living out a fantasy all its own.

DAY TOTAL: $40,000

WEEK TOTAL: $865,929


Fortunately, there are much more economical ways to see the Rubberband live (and I recommend you do so). We can see them often all over Utah Valley in shows around $5 — and sometimes even for free. Check for yourself (www.shupe.net).




ALL THAT LEAVES IS SUNDAY and on either budget, I vote we take that day off and rest. And there you have it. We’ve stayed under budget while we did Utah on just under $100 and just under $1 million. Of course, I had to guesstimate on some of these numbers. There are so many variables to consider when spending that amount of money that it’s impossible to get a truly accurate count (plus I left some room for taxes and tips). So before you go out and try to rent La Caille or the Delta Center, I recommend you call them yourself and don’t for a minute take my word for it. The bottom line is, we live in a state with an enormous amount of fun to offer, no matter what your budget. After all, fun is not just about the state you are in, but also your state of mind.


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