Argentinian fashion consultant, creative director and travel influencer Sofía Sanchez de Betak was nicknamed ‘Chufy’ as a kid. ‘It went from Sofía, to Sofi, to Chofi, to Chufy,’ she writes via email, in between flights.
As you might expect from a worldwide wunderkind, Chufy is difficult to pin down. As well as stalking the globe, hunting for inspirations for her self-titled fashion label, she has also just launched her first round-the-world tome with Assouline, Travels with Chufy.
The scrapbook-esque edition, complete with self-styled holiday snaps, lays out Sanchez de Betak’s wayfaring wisdom, via dozens of characterful hideaways. Each is chosen for its ‘luxury beyond stars’ approach and individualistic qualities that push further than standardised amenity checklists.
‘Nowadays, I think hotels use the word “luxury” to define a room with a good duvet and a flat screen TV,’ she offers. ‘It feels like travel’s “luxury” parameters are all about making every destination look and feel the same across continents.’ For Chufy, this has no relevance to true high-end travel. ‘“Luxury” means connecting with your environment, relating to locals, finding the things that make that destination unique – and learning.’
And she’s learnt from the best. A fuselage of well-travelled acquaintances and colleagues have offered their favourite places and tips, many of which can be found in the anecdotal ‘Don’t Miss’ section of each chapter. Sanchez de Betak thanks Alber Elbaz, Elie Top, Isabel Marant, and Princess Elisabeth von Thurn, among others, for showing her that ‘there are more people like us out there, who value these understated gems more than any number of stars’.
Aslı Tunca, Istanbul, with furniture designed by of the owners, designer Aslı Tunca and Belgian sculptor Carl Vercauteren. Photography: Angeles Holmberg
Though she refers to her draft writings as a series of ‘messy memories’, the finished prose is easy and accessible – even when the places she describes aren’t. She writes as if speaking to a friend. Page after page, we step down into the crushed taverners of Istanbul, out onto wild Kenyan savannahs, finally flinging ourselves into the open pampas of Finca Los Alamos, in Chufy’s Argentinian homeland.
Of course, she’s far from hanging up her hand luggage. Hungry for more adventure, Sanchez de Betak cites India, Africa and the Nordic countries as places she’s yet to fully explore. ‘There’s so much to see,' she says. ‘The world is so big, even if you’ve visited 100 places, you've never seen enough.’