Meet Anouchka Sooriamoorthy-Desvaux de Marigny who came up with a brilliant and innovative idea to make this historic jute bag into luxury items available at the adresses below which she proudly share with us today.

But before let us re-share the work from Vintage Mauritius and some valuable history on this famous Goni.

‘Goni’ is the Mauritian Creole word for jute. Jute bags are part of the Mauritian history: they were used to wrap sugar canes. This word represents our philosophy: inspired by the beauty and the history of Mauritius, we make handmade, plastic free and authentic products. ‘Goni’ is a tropical chic and beach style brand.

GRNW – Women Washing Aloe Fibres in the River for Gounis Bags

Text & Image from

Goni, apart from being used for packing commodities, was well-entrenched in the Mauritian tradition. It had a myriad of uses. It served as mattress for both the indentured labourers and the African slaves. The sugar-cane cutters used to wrap it around their waist up till their knees and also wore “souliers goni” in order to protect their legs and feet against sharp sugar-cane leaves. The dockers used to cover their heads to avoid deposit of dust on their hair and shoulders. The underprivileged utilized it as blanket to warm themselves in cold winters. Children in olden days used goni for sack-racing in their schools’ sports competition. The bhandari (chef in biryani) used it as apron when handling the deg (large traditional cauldron) on flaming fire. It also gave rise to a Mauritian proverb which goes like that “Goni vid pa kapav dibout” (Empty gunny bag cannot stand on its own).

Goni was also used to store old documents, outdated household items, artefacts and family objects of the previous generation. This old sack, for which nobody had any use anymore, would remain stacked for several years unnoticed in the machaan (mezzanine store) of the house until alerted by the attack of termites. In his novel “The Gunny Sack”, M.G. Vassenji, the Commonwealth Writers Award Winner, immortalizes the last memories of a family coming out of the gunny sack. “Salim Juma, in exile from Tanzania, opens up a gunny sack bequeathed to him by a beloved great-aunt. Inside he discovers the past – his own family’s history and the story of Asian experience in East Africa. Its relics and artefacts bring with them the lives of Salim’s Indian great grandfather, Dhanji Govindji, his extensive family and all their loves and betrayals”.

Goni had once been deep-rooted in the socio-economic fabric of Mauritius. It was not only a commodity prized by the sugar oligarchy, but a companion of all seasons in the routine life of Mauritians of all background. Today, it has been dethroned by plastic bags. The present generation does not seem to have any idea of how goni had once been an integral part of the Mauritian tradition. It is incumbent upon the custodians of our patrimony and museum to preserve the specimen, artefacts, folklore and tradition about goni and retrieve the last vestiges of goni industry. It is regrettable that the ruins of the old aloe factory at Trou-aux-Biches have disappeared under the sway of morcellement and spatial development. The relics could have been spared, not only for tourist attraction, but for reminding the present generation and posterity about the canvas and contours of our socio-economic history.

Discover here story, her passion for the GONI !


She had the opportunity to live several professional lives already. After graduating from High School at the Lycée Labourdonnais in Mauritius, Anouchka Sooriamoorthy-Desvaux de Marigny left for Paris, where she studied literature and philosophy at La Sorbonne University and got a Ph.D. Interested in journalism, she worked during four years for Air France magazine in Paris. The wanderlust brought her to Dubai, where she teaches philosophy to young adults. In 2018, she embarked on the adventure of entrepreneurship, creating her clothes and accessories brand, Goni. What’s the common point between all these activities? Creativity and the search for beauty.

1- Who are you? 

From my childhood and my adolescence in Mauritius, I keep the sceneries, the scents, and the flavours. My French upbringing and the years I spent in Paris gave me rigour, critical thinking, and the sake of discussion. The past twelve years in Dubai brought me an incredible openness to the world, to difference, and diversity. So, I guess today I’m a mix of all these elements. 

2- Where did you start and where are you now in your life? 

When I decided to pursue studies in literature and philosophy, I didn’t have a career plan; it was a choice from the heart. I was incredibly lucky to always do what I was passionate about: I started in journalism and worked for Le Monde and Air France magazine in Paris; a few years later, I created a French online newspaper in Dubai. Then I felt the desire for transmission, and I decided to answer the call of teaching. All these experiences have been enriching; but at one point, I felt the need to create. Having lived for many years far from Mauritius didn’t weaken the affection for my homeland, quite the opposite. I could still picture the colours of the lagoon, the smell of the freshly cut sugar cane, or the taste of the spices. It’s precisely this imagery that was my inspiration for my project. On a more professional scale, I wanted a new challenge and to get out of my comfort zone: I didn’t go to a business school, therefore doing a business plan, developing a marketing strategy, prospecting for contracts were very new to me. I was on foreign soil, and I loved it! I learned by doing, I listened to advice from my relatives, and I followed common sense. It turned out to be the right move as, after one year and a half, I’m working with more than ten hotels in Mauritius, and I have lots of new projects in preparation. 

 3- How did you come up with this idea? 

My company’s name is Goni, which means “jute” in Mauritian Creole. The idea came when I was on holiday in Mauritius. On each trip home, I was looking for some unique and original gifts to bring back for my friends in Paris or Dubai. Finding something authentic that was related to the history of Mauritius and was not made in China was a real dare. The idea of pouches and bags made of jute immediately came up: the goni was used since the beginning of the development of agriculture in Mauritius, especially in the sugar industry. I like its rough texture that I combine with colourful fabrics. Since the creation of the brand, I have developed a wide range of products: pouches, bags, headbands, sunglasses pouches, dresses, shirts, sarongs, assorted soaps and toiletry bags, coasters, and our very last creation: a poetry book in French and English celebrating the beauty of Mauritius. The common point between all these products is the pursuit of authenticity. I like the idea that the traveller goes back to his home country bringing an original souvenir of Mauritius: a goni pouch that will wander the streets of Roma, a coaster with the colours of the ocean that will enlighten a Parisian desk in winter, a poetry book which will find its perfect spot on a London bedside table.     

  4- Tell us more about Goni ADN?

Goni is a handmade and plastic-free brand. Each product is unique and has an original design. In addition, all the products have to be easily transportable, light, not fragile, and useful. All my creations come from my inspiration and imagination. However, I like to work closely with my clients: on the basis of my creations, we start a dialogue which will eventually help me offer tailor-made products that match the identity of the hotel or the company.   

 5- What is your 2020 vision and mission?

2018 was the reflection and implementation year; 2019 was marked by the professionalization of the project and the commercialization of my products in Mauritian hotels. I now have the shoulders to think big: settle new distribution agreements, form partnerships, and, of course, continue to create new products. What I love about this project is that it’s ever evolving: each encounter, each trip brings new ideas, the sky is the limit! I just finished an exciting collaboration with a fragrance composer who created an original home fragrance for Goni: it’s fresh, fruity with a hint of spice, and it can be declined in several versions (home diffuser, soap, potpourri, etc.). The beginning of 2020 was marked by the development of my corporate gifts catalog, which offers one-of-a-kind products for hotels and companies in the hospitality and tourism sector. Each product can be custom-made and tailored to fit the client’s desiderata. I was surprised to discover that most of the corporate gifts are, still today, factory products or products without any identity. An excellent corporate gift should be the elegant final point of the holidays for the traveler; it represents the spirit and the soul of the company. 

I am also working on new products for hotels and companies in the Indian Ocean and in Dubai. I am of course aware that we are globally experiencing an economic slowdown, and that the tourism sector is a high-risk area regarding the covid-19 outbreak. We need to be patient and hopefully things will get better. I am optimistic about a change of mindset: people will be more and more concerned about handmade products and about short distribution circuit.

  6- Where can we get your products?

Goni products are available in Mauritius at Royal Palm Beachcomber, Hilton, Lux* Grand-Gaube, Lux* Belle-Mare, Lux* Le Morne, Veranda hotels, Heritage Awali, Heritage Telfair. Blue Penny Museum shop. In Tahiti, French Polynesia, Goni products are also available in two high-end concept stores: Rose Corail and Blue Flamingo. 

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After the recent round of short interviews with hospitality leaders in the Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka, these were the key messages that will win customers back. 

MALDIVES – No social distancing, but a rather physical distancing in the Maldives.

One month ago the Maldives reopened the country borders to international travelers and since then, welcomed nearly 4500 tourists mainly from the UK, USA, UAE, Germany, Swiss, and Russia. With strict health and safety standard procedures implemented across the country, starting from the airport to the resort islands, the ‘new travelers’ have already voiced their appreciation for the level of care and hygiene on various social media and forums. But if being welcomed by the resort representatives wrapped in PPE and armed with face shield, gloves, and masks might not feel like the most relaxing start of a much-needed holiday, Afeef Hussain, Regional Director at LUX* Resorts in the Maldives, reassures that guests do love the feeling of safety 

“Being able to arrive at the resort and start enjoying their vacation right away not having to worry about anything, is what our guests want”

Together with high levels of hygiene, another key element to restoring travel confidence is the value of the experience. Afeef Hussain shares that the ‘new travelers’ are not going to spend the same amount of money they used to. Therefore, the value of the vacation is under great scrutiny and determines whether your customer might decide to return to your hotel or to travel somewhere else. 

“There is no such thing of ‘new normal’, but rather a ‘new mindset’”

To ensure that each action taken to uphold the hygiene standards at the resorts is mutually beneficial, Afeef says that whatever is done for the guests, is also done for the team members. This ensures their wellbeing and wellness and translates the Company’s core message of ‘care’ into action.

SRI LANKA – Borders are closed, but our resorts are not.

Sri Lanka has recently delayed the opening of the country borders, but hotels and resorts across the island are back in business with the local market. The execution of health and safety standards at each property has been instrumental to restore a domestic travel confidence, says Arjuna Perera – Sales Manager at Theme Resorts & SPA based in Colombo. To start with, Arjuna Perera and his team produced a video message to show all the procedures and reassure their customer base. 

‘We immediately created a survey, to help understand what are our customers’ priorities at this critical time’ 

But, as we know, the local market demand alone does not cover it. A voucher system propelled by Arjuna’s sales team successfully generated over 1000 room nights. This shows that flexibility is another key factor to encourage travel demand. Flights can be canceled or delayed, quarantine systems are changing by the day. ‘All we need is a bit of flexibility’ says Arjuna ‘and the results are showing us that people are keen to travel, they just want to feel safe’. 

But how do we ensure social distancing in Sri Lanka? For Theme Resorts & Spa, more than distancing, we talk about isolation, but in a good way. The nature experience of some of their properties is guaranteed to the point that to reach some of their glamping sites, you will have to be picked up by the hotel concierge somewhere in the jungle.

MAURITIUS – A contactless experience and smart use of technology.

As Mauritius prepares to reopen borders next month, the health & safety checklist of the destination seems to grow longer.

The use of technology, however, plays a key role in the destination, currently undergoing a digital transformation with a brand new website, a travel platform in the making and a range of digital solutions for tourists. Airline and travel industry expert Youvraj Seeam, based in Mauritius, shares that to pick up on travel confidence, we first have to observe the consumers’ changing behaviors and thereafter understand the new demands.

“For this to be truly successful, we need collaboration with all the stakeholders across the industry”

Youvraj shares that tools like the Travel Recovery Insights Portal of ARC & Boston Consulting, the McKinsey Travel Pulse, or the Traveller Trends Tracker by Adara must be on top of today’s agenda for the modern marketer. This would enable industry leaders to have more visibility and start making progress along the way.

Based on his experience in the airline industry, the key message needs to revolve around hygiene standards and procedures from the moment the traveler checks-in, boards the plane and reaches the destination. Once arrived, says Youvraj, a contactless experience needs to be in place to ensure a safe transit until the guest ultimately reaches the hotel.

 About the author:

Dolores Semeraro is a multilingual professional speaker and trainer, fluent in the Chinese language. She provides strategic direction and training courses to companies and tourism institutions helping them to speak today’s digital language of their audience. Her vision is to create a sustainable digital connection between travel industry stakeholders and their desired customers.


IT’S NOW OR NEVER, I am only tired, as the song goes and so says mother Earth after years and years of succumbing to the filth that are being spilled into her bosom by the 7 billion of us.

 We are at a crossroad and an eye-opening moment that have to be reckoned with. The changes to the way we live, the way we do business and the way we conduct ourselves in this world will happen whether we like it or not. It will be subtle and forcing us to be the architect of this change – it’s another industrial revolution enabling humans to evolve into a more conscientious being for the benefit of all and mother nature. And it’s worth mentioning here the abrupt change we are witnessing in the hospitality industry. 

Being reliant on large number of human capitals, the hospitality industry has been the most affected by the global pandemic, like no other. Think about it, its an industry that needs an intensive labour force to serve its consumers, it needs the use of fossil fuel to allow its consumers to travel and at the core of the travel industry there is the need for the Oil & Gas producers to power the planes and run the establishment that serves the hospitality industry. So, it’s an industry that at the core, survives and becomes profitable on the demands and supply within the Petroleum Market – for instance, when we see a low cost of crude, the demand rises, consumption rises and tourist travels. On the other hand, as the demand for Petroleum products rises, we see a rise in production which accompanies the rise in crude price. At the same time industrial catering contracts are signed in numbers around the Middle Eastern oil producing countries to support the crude majors, like BP or Total, and their service partners.

Then sometime in March 2020 the world stopped…

As every human activity came to a standstill, the price of crude oil stumbled and crashed as the demands crumbled. Unfortunately, we have made crude oil the center of our existential activities; that businesses linked to its production, whether directly or indirectly, are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic period. This is a true portrait of our vulnerability as humans who have become too dependent on fossil fuel – the only matter that is damaging our beloved mother Earth.

In light of the new normal as we fashionably call it these days, the only way forward for the hospitality industry, but more certainly for the industrial catering sector, is automation and robotics with a change in attitude within the concept by all stakeholders and consumers. This in turn will reduce the heavy reliance on large manpower thereby improving profitability which has hit the industry since the fall of crude price. Although change is a pill hardly accepted by people entrenched within a certain framework and mindset, and unless changes are actuated, the hospitality industry may lose the precious backing of the investors. 

How can we forge this sudden change then…? One aspect with the labour intensive hospitality industry is to use automation and robotics wherever possible but still remain within the framework of good practice. For instance, within the kitchen we have already started using automation when it comes to the processing of veggies, washing up of cutleries, pots and pans. What we need now would be the autonomous self-cleaning equipment – in the domestic market we already have self-cleaning oven – with a bit of imagination we can have self-cleaning combo oven and cooking plates inserted on a stainless free stove where every debris or liquids drops into an underlying tray from where they are sucked into garbage cannisters. The idea here is to reduce the manpower wherever possible and keep only the chef and a small brigade to assist him in the mass production. 

The other crucial change within the industrial catering facility, most appropriately, would be the implementation of self-service as a general rule of the game. This will limit human contact and adheres to the on-going rule of distancing as applied in the pandemic situation. The onus will then be on the catering team to properly and intelligently prepare the plated layout which is then collected by the consumers. This process will help on portion control amongst other things, which is important in controlling the cost. 

Obviously, the arguments for change and innovation within the hospitality industry is a hot subject at the moment and should be for quite some time. After all we do not know when the pandemic will subside nor when will a real cure be found! However, we have already engaged in a new way of living and a new way of doing business, which in the industrial catering sector it means finding innovative ways to reduce the reliance on large manpower and engaging strategic actions to reduce the cost of doing business in order to be more profitable.

Let’s hope at the end of the day, the right course of action is taken with the interest of all the stakeholders considered and enough investments are made to meet up the challenge of considerable change.