Sofia Sanchez de Betak on Life in a Suitcase and Her “Chufy” Empire

Sofia Sanchez de Betak on Life in a Suitcase and Her “Chufy” Empire

For Sofia Sanchez de Betak, there’s nothing better than a sweet escape to an off-the-radar destination in far-flung locales around the globe. Now, the sartorial darling and
fashion consultant has turned her love for all things travel into a budding “Chufy” empire, comprised of a book and clothing and accessory line inspired by her journeys.

What sparked your desire to write your new book, Travels With Chufy?
There’s so much information [on travel] out there nowadays—blogs, websites—but it’s hard to get the right recommendations and to know who to trust. Where to start? Where to go? Whose advice is worth following? My book puts together all these pieces, covering what I’ve been discovering for many years and capturing my love for traveling.

Where did “Chufy” come from?
It’s my nickname! There were four Sofias in my class at school, so we all needed a different name to identify one another.

How did you catch the traveling bug?
Both of my parents are in tourism. My mom has a travel agency—she’s always taken us around the world on every holiday. She would fight with the headmistress of my school, because I would learn much more on a trip to Egypt than a week in school. I can’t remember half of what I learned in school, but I remember every detail of our trips.

Where’s the most far-off place you’ve been to?
Antarctica. That was a hard one to get to, but wow…one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen.

What are your favorite hotels around the world?
Instead of staying at five-star hotels, I like staying at places that are atypical, especially private homes. That way, you get to know someone local, and they take care of you in a different way. Hotels don’t interest me that much. I love Hazz, a private house in Istanbul. It has luxurious bedrooms that are set up like a hotel, but you feel like a local, because the owner takes you around to her favorite bazaars, and it’s in an area with great antiques and vintage, which I love. You don’t have a ton of people servicing you, but it’s amazing. This place completely changed my perception of Istanbul. There’s also a great beach resort in Kenya called Kiwayu. It’s basically in the middle of nowhere. You have to spend an hour and a half on a boat to get there. There’s an amazing cabana with no windows or glass or doors. It has the most incredible beach and the freshest fish—it feels like you have the island to yourself. You can even surf in the sand and snorkel and scuba dive and hunt for oysters!

How do you deal with flight delays?
I’m not the nicest human being at airports. [Laughs] I sometimes lose my temper. But sometimes, the airlines do, too! I always bring my iPad, watch movies, and catch up on my reading with the Audible app. I’ll walk around the airport listening to my books.

Is your husband [fashion show producer Alexandre de Betak] a good travel partner?
He’s the best. At the beginning, when we started dating, he would go to the same place every summer and I’d be like, “No, life is too short. We should go somewhere new and exotic!” It took me a while to convince him to start going to new places, but he soon did it, and now, we can’t imagine a holiday without an exotic destination. We still go to Majorca, but we try to go to other exciting places, like Kenya and Iceland, too.

You had an epic wedding in your native Argentina.
Yes, our wedding was in the north of Patagonia where I’d go on holiday when I was little. It was fabulous. I still haven’t edited one album or video, though!

Do you stay digitally connected when you’re traveling?
I try to go to places that don’t have Internet access or cell phone reception. When we go to Patagonia, there are no phones or TVs. You have to drive 20 minutes to get any sort of reception, and I love it! Compared to everyone in my family, I’m the least addicted to technology.

What’s your recommendation for someone who wants a long weekend away from NYC?
Harbour Island in the Bahamas. I love the Ocean View Club. It’s easy and close and beautiful. It feels homey!

Where are you off to this summer?
We haven’t decided yet. Definitely Majorca, but I still haven’t decided about our additional trip. I’m looking at some Northern countries that I’ve never been to. I found Sparrow Island on the map…maybe we’ll go there!

This summer also marks the launch of your own fashion collection, Chufy.
It was inspired by the countryside in Argentina, but the clothes can be worn anywhere. I brought some of the pieces on my trip to Kenya last year, and everyone was asking me about it. You’ll find ponchos, boots, shirtdresses, skirts, jewelry…a bit of everything, all of which you can combine in different destinations.

What we can expect for future collections?
Every collection will be based off of one of my trips. The next ones will be Japan and Kenya. The collections don’t necessarily align with trends, but rather with the places that inspire me. I think it’s beautiful to wear something that reminds you of a place.