Discover the creation of AMMI Nice Masséna with our CEO

Discover the creation of AMMI Nice Masséna with our CEO

Hugues de Vogüé, founder of the AMMI Hotels group, takes a moment to tell us about the start of his entrepreneurial adventure: the takeover of the AMMI Nice Masséna aparthotel, formerly known as Ajoupa Baie des Anges.


Hello Hugues, how are you? Are you ready for our questions?

Great! I can't wait to tell you about my journey with AMMI Nice Masséna, which began 10 years ago: it's the product of many years' work.


Where does the name Ajoupa come from?

An Ajoupa is a hut made of branches perched on stilts that originated in the West Indies. When I bought the company 10 years ago, it was already called Ajoupa. The name had been defined by the owner before me. At the very beginning, the establishment was called La Maïounasa. Maïoun in Nissart (Niçois dialect) means the House. They probably wanted to keep this spirit with Ajoupa, which is also a house. It was a clever move because it starts with an A and used to be useful for phonebooks.


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). As well as the practical side, because the name is unique, so it's easy to protect for referencing, and the fame of the name; I liked the idea of being able to stick my AMMI brand with two M's because we love (M) a lot, with all the reference to friendship (receiving like friends). After all, it's the most important establishment in the group. AMMI makes more sense to me than Ajoupa. 


How did your first purchase go?

I didn't really have a choice, because at 35 years old and with no start-up capital, no bank wanted to lend me money; and I didn't want to go into partnership with anyone, because I didn't want to divide up the value creation that (I hoped at the time) I was going to make.

The previous owner offered me a vendor loan. I was able to prove my worth to him after about 18 months, and that's when the banks finally 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 “at-home” feel, with a kitchenette and more space (on average 27 m2), complemented by hotel services. It worked quickly, and we were ranked second on Trip Advisor within 2 years.


Why have you moved reception to the 3rd floor?  

We renovated reception in 2023. Previously, it was on the fifth floor. We have the entire third floor and the other AMMI Nice Masséna flats are on the second, fourth and fifth floors of the building. Moving the reception to the third floor meant putting it at the heart of the building and making it easier for guests to pass through on leaving their rooms and talk to the receptionists; when you're on the fifth floor, it's less practical because you have to go upstairs. What's more, we now have a breakfast area. We think that compared to Airbnb, our strength lies in our services, and offering breakfast is very much appreciated by our customers.



How many people worked at Ajoupa before and now? 

Our team is much bigger now, so we can offer more services and stand out from Airbnb: that's our big challenge.  

Before, we had a team of one or two receptionists and two cleaners. Now we need five people, because we offer free cleaning on request, so we have more beds, more objects, more crockery, more set-up work (welcoming guests to their rooms, baby equipment). 

Our longest-serving staff, Anja & Diana, who have been with us for over 10 years, were already here before I arrived. They are actually 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 we have a bit of history together. I have very fond memories in that room. What's more, it was right next door to reception, so it was ideal for getting on with work on sleepless nights. 

Otherwise, my favourite room is 202, on the second floor with a balcony overlooking the pedestrian zone. It's very spacious and has a ceiling height of almost 4 meters.


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

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


When you bought Ajoupa in 2013, did you have this vision for it 10 years later?

For Ajoupa, absolutely. The product has remained faithful to what we were offering at the start; necessarily improved; on the other hand for the group I didn't think I'd get to where I am today.

(Perhaps this will be the subject of a future interview ;) ) 


What's next for AMMI Nice Masséna? 

Renovation projects are planned very soon (March 2024) for our flats: new equipment, new decor, improvements to kitchens and bathrooms. It's a major investment. The communal areas are already being renovated (February 2024) and the lift will be installed in April.



Choose a word beginning with all the letters of AJOUPA to describe AMMI Nice Masséna.

A for Ami/AMMI : we welcome you as friends. 

J for Joyful : I hope that's our state of mind: I want to create sparkling eyes, smiles and laughter in both our staff and our customers.

O for Objectives : I like to set and exceed objectives; for AMMI Nice Masséna, they're big.

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 travellers.

P is for Passion : as I am and as all our teams are.

A for Ambassador : Ambassador of Nice and the Côte d'Azur. I hope that AMMI Nice Masséna enables people to discover this city and this region that I adore.