By Bradley Osburn
Rêve, a new exotic car rental service owned by Gainesville natives Daniel Sarkis and Darren Jones, doesn’t just want to rent you a car, but a lifestyle. With a growing fleet of performance vehicles and an expanding client base, the two are hoping to spread their enthusiasm for high-performance driving in well-engineered machines.
The company had a soft opening at the Tyler’s Hope Golf Tournament, where they were able to raise $1,200 for charity through a raffle. Rêve will officially open in January, but Jones said that since the tournament they’ve received dozens of calls, just from the exposure during that event.
Sarkis said that the two have been friends for years and wanted to do a project together for a long time. A trip to Las Vegas and a decision to purchase a Lamborghini was the first step on the road to bringing the service to Gainesville.
“People don’t believe that it’s a Gainesville company,” said Jones, whose family owns Continental Imports, “but every single one of our cars are stored in a local warehouse. We’re just two Gainesville boys who love cars and want to share that passion.”
Growing up around high-end vehicles has given Jones the wherewithal and the expertise needed to care for exotic cars, he said, and it helps to keep the costs down in terms of repair and detailing, since he’s learned to treat each car individually with its own quirks. The two have so far purchased $1.2 million worth of high-performance rentals, but the goal the two have set for themselves is to provide an experience, not just a ride.
“Hertz provides transport,” Sarkis said. “We don’t just provide transport, we provide a lifestyle. We have yet to hear from somebody who just says they want to drive fast.”
“It’s a whole different experience when you’re in one of these cars,” Jones said. “We want to provide people with the feeling of going out to a restaurant and being seen in one of them, of coming out after and seeing a valet with it parked out front.”
Jones said than he and Sarkis hope to not just provide the car, but their connections to renters so that they can craft the experience they want.
“Say someone is trying to set something up for their anniversary,” Jones said. “Because Daniel and I have been around, are a little more well-traveled and have gotten to know people we can try to not just rent them a car, but set something up with a hotel or restaurant. We’re trying to go above and beyond for these clients.”
The two made a point to say that going above and beyond requires accommodation on their part to make their renters’ experience everything they want it to be. Whether that’s providing a rental to someone interested in buying so that they can test it out, meeting renters in areas that the company doesn’t normally go to or working with customers on the minimum time requirements for a rental.
“We’re not going say no,” Jones said. “It just might cost a little more. If somebody in Orlando wanted to rent then we have a two-day minimum because we have to have a driver go down there or load it up on a flatbed. But depending on the circumstances we can be pretty accommodating.”
Interested renters need to have full car insurance on their personal vehicle, agree to a fully refundable security deposit, be at least 25 (thought the two are open to accommodation on that limit) and have no major driving incidents. Before renters can take the car out, the staff gives them a 30-minute training course on the basics of the vehicle they’ve decided on, and that’s part of providing a memorable experience.
“We want people to enjoy this,” Jones said. “We don’t want people to feel foolish looking for reverse, because it’s different in our car than it is in their normal car.”
The two have no real competition in the market, Sarkis said, and in five years he hopes to have 20 percent of the company’s business in Gainesville. Most rentals so far have been multi-day rentals in a two-and-a-half hour radius outside of the city because Gainesville is currently still too small of a market to support the company.
“But as the city grows, there will be higher-paying jobs and a bigger demand,” he said. “As the nightlife and the restaurant scene grows we can grow with it. There’s really a want for this. The dream is that everybody in Gainesville who wants to experience this can.”
- Lamborghini Gallardo (2009)
- Audi R8 (2009)
- Audi R8 Spyder Convertible (2011)
- Audi A8 (2014)
- Range Rover Sport Autobiography Edition (2013)
- BMW X5M (2011)
Rental periods vary by day, week or weekend, with the Range Rover at $499 per day up to $9,999 for the Audi Convertible for a week.
Rêve also offers a Supercar Experience for $800 per driver, where three drivers have the opportunity to drive three different super cars on a selection of courses with a variety of car combinations on offer.
Visit Rêve online at goreve.com