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The Nice hospitality industry is taking on a new dimension with the opening of the long-awaited Negresco Spa, the culmination of a ten-year plan for Lionel Servant, the general manager of the iconic hotel.


The Nice hospitality industry is taking on a new dimension with the opening of the long-awaited Negresco Spa, the culmination of a ten-year plan for Lionel Servant, the general manager of the iconic hotel.

Category: Europe - France - Industry economy - Renovation / Addition - Interviews
Interview made by Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine on 2024-02-12

Lionel Servant, General Manager of Le Negresco in Nice

Lionel Servant, General Manager of Le Negresco in Nice, since 2019
Photo credit © Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine / Le Negresco

It was the missing brick in meeting the many criteria for the “palace” distinction. Le Negresco’s spa has opened its doors and is fulfilling all its promises. From the artistic dimension to the range of treatments offered to guests of the hotel and the surrounding area, the N Le Spa is an ode to well-being and contemplation. Lionel Servant, who was appointed head of the legendary hotel in 2019, spoke to Le Journal des Palaces about this new place of “discovery, contemplation, and immersion”.

A Negresco brand: N Le Spa

“Creating N Le Spa was an obvious choice. Le Negresco turned 110 years old in 2023. In 50 years, Madame Augier has created a legend, an iconic hotel recognised in France, Europe and internationally”, recalls the director, evoking the history of gastronomy, the decoration around art and then the creation of the beach. “We were already offering the primary needs in our house, i.e. sleeping and eating, and with the spa, we are going to offer the secondary needs”, he continues.

The creation ofN Le Spa is part of a 2020-2030 roadmap drawn up by Lionel Servant and his teams. A crucial step at the heart of an extensive and structured action plan. It is also a response to guests' expectations, since until now, the hotel has had neither a swimming pool nor a wellness area. “Well-being is one of the top three criteria for choosing a holiday. Responding to this need for well-being is perfectly maintaining the elegance and excellence that we want to offer our guests at Le Negresco,” confirms the happy director. “This additional service will contribute to the whole change of image that we have been working on for Le Negresco over the last four or five years, with this agreement on modernity, this desire to move towards an even more luxurious positioning,” he adds.

In addition, N Le Spa embraces the identity of the independent hotel. For the director, entrusting the management of the spa to a brand was out of the question. “I believe that Le Negresco is a brand in its own right and doesn't need the addition of a luxury brand. “Luxury must be personalized, and this personalization must be implemented by all the staff in a committed and unique way. This means profiling the guest. By knowing their preferences, you can surprise them, particularly in the spa. And that can only be done if there is a single direction. The moment you start splitting up the guest process, it's not as effective”, he explains. N Le Spa is therefore a Le Negresco brand, to serve the objectives of the hotel as a whole.

A meticulous design

After more than two years of reflection, design and creation, N Le Spa saw the light of day on 24 January. To achieve this, the general manager entrusted its design to Patrick Saussay, an expert in differentiating spas, and teamed up with Jean-Philippe Nuel, an international interior architect who immersed himself in the identity of Le Negresco. “He understood Le Negresco's heritage and culture, and came up with a design that was in keeping with it, and which was a natural extension of Le Negresco's DNA within the spa. It was extraordinary. The continuity of a place that celebrates eclecticism.

Two entrances allow guests to enter 700 m² of spaces dedicated to pure hedonism. One entrance has been created on Rue de Rivoli, for easy access by outside guests, while another access allows hotel guests to enter the spa via the Salon Royal. The construction of the two-storey spa gave rise to a swimming pool in the basement, which required all the foundations to be consolidated. Concept store, boudoir, barber, treatment rooms, hammam, sauna, experiential showers, relaxation areas, fitness area and even a gourmet lounge have all been added. In these spaces, 20 staff are now dedicated to achieving the unique and holistic experience of a stay at Le Negresco.

Arts and crafts everywhere

With around thirty works of art on display in the spa, art continues to be the main theme at Le Negresco. Matisse rubs shoulders with Dali and Picasso. Sculptures meet paintings, enhanced by the creations of Régis Goldberg, a local staffer who is Meilleur Ouvrier de France and who has created undulating partitions, frescoes and other ceilings, or by the paintings created by the Nice-based company Entreprise Didier. Even the cabins have been designed to encourage contemplation. “Here too, we wanted to restore the identity of our rooms, meaning that you will discover painted ceilings and a different decoration for each cabin,” explains Lionel Servant. To the delight of our guests who, from their massage tables, can let their thoughts flow as they admire ceilings inspired by great masterpieces.

This aesthetic approach extends to the design of the wardrobes. Here, the delicate floral uniforms of the staff are complemented by the bathrobes for the guests. Designed to allow guests to “move around the hotel with great elegance”, these bathrobes have been produced in two versions: one printed with pink flowers that recall the codes of Le Negresco, and the other with a Mao collar and hints of blue and brown.

Technology and innovation for an immersive experience

N Le Spaalso takes Le Negresco into a new dimension, that of artificial intelligence. Here, immersion is served by technology. “We have created a room based around artificial intelligence, where all the walls broadcast images, with integrated sound, that allow you to find yourself in a field of poppies, in the middle of lavender, at the top of the Himalayas… You are completely immersed in a space, and thanks to artificial intelligence, you can come back three or four times without ever seeing the same images. But you will find the theme that you love. It's quite extraordinary, and that's what really sets it apart”, says Lionel Servant. The yoga sessions, immersed in this digital universe, take on an exceptional holistic dimension.

An immersive experience in each space, combined with the use of local or French brands so that each guest can find the world that suits them best. Six brands with values shared with Le Negresco, brands that are “entirely different, all French, all eco-responsible”. Olivier Claire products join Codage, Vinésime, CHO Nature, based in Grasse, Maison Godet from Saint-Paul-de-Vence and Le Rouge Français. “We offer various choices, and I think this is the future of the spa”.

Synergy between spa and gastronomy

The spa has been designed as an integral part of the Le Negresco experience. Here, the synergy between the hotel's offerings is obvious, particularly through the work of Virginie Basselot, Le Negresco's one-star MOF chef. Not only has she devised a gastronomic proposal to be enjoyed in the spa, but also a suggestion for the Chantecler menu, where “a recipe will be created using Vinésime products, that are made around grapes and vine stocks, including Gevrey Chambertin”, explains Lionel Servant.

The next step for Le Negresco is the construction of the Jeanne Suite, a tribute to Jeanne Augier, the hotel's emblematic owner for over 50 years. The suite will cover an area of 400 m² and will be located on the sixth and top floor of the legendary hotel, in place of the former flats of the woman who was nicknamed “Madame”. By spring 2025, the suite will offer a spectacular view over the Baie des Anges, and perhaps the first palace distinction on the Promenade des Anglais.

The boudoir of N Le Spa

The boudoir of N Le Spa
Photo credit © Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine / Le Negresco

An area dedicated to men's grooming, including a complete barbershop, where they can sample the finest house spir
Photo credit © Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine / Le Negresco

Chef Virginie Basselot has designed a gourmet and healthy space for spa guests
Photo credit © Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine / Le Negresco

The relaxation area, located on the lower level of the spa
Photo credit © Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine / Le Negresco

N the Spa has a dedicated entrance on rue de Rivoli for outside guests
Photo credit © Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine / Le Negresco

The N le Spa swimming pool was eagerly awaited by hotel guests
Photo credit © Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine / Le Negresco

More about...
Le Negresco
37, promenade des Anglais
06000 Nice
Number of rooms and suites: 117

About the author

As a journalist and luxury hotel expert inspired by the men and women who embody it, Vanessa aspires to enhance and sublimate the beauty and elegance of palaces through her writing. "In a palace, simplicity serves the quest for excellence" she admires.

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