AMMI Nice Massena

The leader of our gang of AMMIs tells us the story of AMMI Nice Masséna

Categories : Coming soon : latest AMMI News, published on : 2/15/24

Hugues de Vogüé, founder of the AMMI Hotels group, gave us some of his time to talk about the beginning of his entrepreneurial adventure: the purchase of the AMMI Nice Masséna aparthotel, which was then called Ajoupa Baie des Anges.


Hello Hugues, how are you? Are you ready for this interview?

Very well, and you? Yes! I can't wait to tell you about the history of AMMI Nice Masséna. It all started 10 years ago: it's the result of many years' work.


Do the balconies of AMMI Nice Masséna feel like an Ajoupa (a hut made of branches perched on stilts, originally from the West Indies)? If not, where does the name come from?

Why not ? When I bought the company 10 years ago, it was already its name and it had been defined by the owner before me. Originally, the establishment was called La Maïounasa. Maïoun in Nissart (Niçois dialect) means the House. They probably wanted to keep the spirit with Ajoupa, which is also a house. It was a clever move because the name starts with an A, and at the time, that was important for phone books.


Why didn't you keep the name Ajoupa? 

I didn't really like the sound of the name or what it evoked (small Creole hut). Apart from the practical side, because the name is unique and therefore easy to protect in terms of referencing, and the celebrity of the name, which was useful, being able to stick my brand name AMMI (friend) with two M's because we live our guests very MMuch, with all the reference to friendship (receiving like friends) was important to me. After all, it's the most important establishment in the group. AMMI means more to me than Ajoupa. 


What tipped the balance in favour of this purchase? On the contrary, what held you back? 

I didn't really have a choice, because I was a young entrepreneur at 35 and no bank wanted to lend me money without a capital contribution; and I didn't want to become a partner, because I didn't want to share in the value creation that (I hoped at the time) I was going to make.

The previous owner agreed to give me a vendor loan. I was able to prove myself after about 18 months and then the banks agreed to lend me money.

On top of that, I'd come from the traditional hotel business (Accor) and I liked the idea of hosting guests in the authenticity of a building in Nice, with high ceilings and a hybrid “like-home” feel, with a kitchenette and more space (on average 27 m2) but complemented by hotel services. It worked very quickly, and we came second on Trip Advisor in just 2 years.


Why did you decide move the reception to the 3rd floor?  

We renovated the reception area last year in 2023. It used to be on the 5th floor. All the flats in the 3rd floor are ours and the rest of the AMMI Nice Masséna flats are spread over the 2nd, 4th and 5th floors of the building. Moving the reception to the 3rd floor meant putting it at the heart of the building, and it was more convenient for guests to drop in as they were leaving their rooms and have a chat with the receptionists; when you're on the 5th floor, it's not as easy because you have to climb upstairs. What's more, we now have a breakfast area with 2 balconies. We think that compared to Airbnb, our strength is in service and being able to offer breakfast is very much appreciated by our customers.



How many people work at Ajoupa vs now? 

Now we have a much bigger team to offer more service and differentiate ourselves from Airbnb: that's our big challenge.  

Before, we had a team of 1 or 2 receptionists and 2 cleaners. Now we need 5 people, because we offer free cleaning (on request), so we have more beds, more objects, more crockery, more set-up work (welcome staging, baby equipment). We've moved upmarket.

Our two longest-serving employees, Diana and Anja, who have been with us for over 10 years, were already here when I arrived. At AMMI, we take good care of our employees : they both are still with us but in other establishments and with more responsibilities.


Do you have a favourite room? 

I lived in 511 for 6 months, so she and I have a bit of history. I have very fond memories of it. And as it was right next to reception, it was handy for going to work on those sleepless nights. 

My other favourite room is 202, on the 2nd floor with a balcony overlooking the Zone Piétonne (pedestrian street). It's very spacious with a ceiling of almost 4 meters. 


What has AMMI Nice Masséna kept from Ajoupa Baie des Anges? 

I hope we've retained the friendliness and simplicity of the welcome. My predecessor was attentive to his customers and staff and their well-being so I hope I've stayed in that direction. 


When you bought Ajoupa in 2013, did you imagine it like this 10 years later?

For Ajoupa, yes. The product has remained pretty faithful to the original one; inevitably improved a bit; on the other hand for the Group I didn't think I'd be where I am today.

(That might make for an interesting interview in the future ;) ) 


What's next for AMMI Nice Masséna? 

Renovation projects are planned for the next few weeks (March 2024) for our apparrements : new equipment, new decoration, improvements to kitchens and bathrooms. It's a big project. The communal areas are being renovated (February 2024) and the lift is planned for April.


Give a word beginning with all the letters of AJOUPA to describe your current vision of AMMI Nice Masséna? 

A for Ami/AMMI : We receive like friends. 

J for Joyful : I hope this is our state of mind: I want to generate sparkling eyes, smiles and bursts of laughter from both our teams and our customers.

O for Objectives : I like to have them and exceed them; for AMMI Nice Masséna, we have some big ones.

U for Useful : usefulness is important to us: we want our establishments to be up to date and adapted to the needs of today's travelers. 

P is for Passion : as I am and as our staff is.

A for Ambassador : Ambassador of Nice and the French Riviera. I hope that AMMI Nice Masséna enables people to discover this city and this region that I adore.