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Coachella “Weekend One” has come and gone, and chances are you likely saw some sort of social media activity around the bacchanal—the plentiful flower crowns, mountain vistas and body glitter signifying a de facto vignette for the annual music mega-festival. Coachella, though, has come to represent much more than just the fair. In Palm Springs and its surrounding areas, dozens of brands and organizations hold parties and host activations—but few match American Express Platinum House, an event provided exclusively for the company’s Platinum Card and Centurion Members and designed to “elevate the Card Member's experience,” says Janey Whiteside, Amex's EVP and GM of Global Charge Products, Benefits & Services.
There have now been four iterations of Platinum House, including pop-ups in Aspen over the town’s Food & Wine Festival and during Art Basel in Miami Beach—where Drake performed an ultra-VIP concert for just 150 people. This past weekend’s was, perhaps, the most varied Platinum House yet. Its debut, in fact, was at last year’s Coachella. “This was our first repeat House,” says Whiteside. “This time last year, we re-launched the Platinum Card, changing the value proposition. We did the House here, at The Parker, but the look for round two [was] totally different.”
The Parker Palm Springs is, in itself, a memorable trip—even just for ambling. Beautiful people milling about aside, its grounds are fragranced and lush—a calibrated landscape schematic of desert aridity and sun-lit flora, and it is utterly captivating in a midcentury-ease sort of manner. This year’s Platinum House was set deep within its gardens, with crystal signposts outlining a route for guests. (While this writer was making his way back to the event, a hummingbird followed, feeding from hanging blooms along the way.)
“The genesis of the Platinum House”—which is rather straightforward, despite its multiple components, detailed below—“is that we go to places where we know our Card Members will be, and we aim to provide something more,” says Whiteside. “At Coachella, the question was: how could we provide daytime respite?”
The answer? With a long list of dynamic and myriad activities, nooks and crannies to explore. The artist Daniel Arsham, part of the American Express Platinum Collective of thought-leaders and creative-thinkers, played a large role in the envisioning and execution of this year’s House. Through his design firm, Snarkitecture, Arsham built out a “dreamy” mountain-mimicking tent at the entrance—immediately transporting attendees from the botanical calm of The Parker into something just as tranquil, but a bit more surreal. It looked like the rugged terrain that frames Palm Springs, but rendered in washed white cloth.
“Daniel’s vision, around what he wanted to do with the space, was a catalyst for us this time,” adds Whiteside.
But there was much more to see and to do. Zanna Roberts Rassi, a co-founder of MILK Makeup, was in-situ showcasing beauty trends and “festival-ready” makeup looks. A pop-up store by the label Knowlita, represented on the ground by co-founder Quincy Moore, sold an exclusive capsule collection of apparel called “This Is Just Fantasy,” a partnership and tie-in with the House’s cerebral vibe apparent.
A big hit, back for a second time, was morning SoulCycle classes. The boutique fitness company’s Founding Senior Master Instructor, Stacey Griffith was on hand for instructions on Saturday and Sunday mornings, at 8:30, 9:30, and 10:30 (during Coachella weekend, a late night is inevitable. Whiteside mentioned that there needed to be some “wellness” in the mix; nothing like a SoulCycle class to burn off a hangover). Griffith actually brought SoulAnnex, which is the brand’s latest workout innovation—the exercises now combine more weights and resistance bands.
There were also bars and hydration stations sprinkled throughout—in fact, the House this year even came with a signature cocktail. From Hella Cocktail Company, Gotham Greens, and Casa Dragones Tequila, the drink, dubbed “The Platinum Heat,” was concocted just for the event. Sadly, it was too early in the day for this writer to try one.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, there were live DJ sets by Julia Michaels and Justine Skye, performed on the Republic Records Platinum House stage; temporary tattoo applications provided by Tattly and Saks Fifth Avenue; crystal energy readings and Reiki healings; and, if you wanted to just kick back and rest, Whiteside mentioned that “we consciously made different pockets—where you could have solitary moments.” Always important.
Where, then, will Platinum House land next? Whiteside is mum on the subject, but many more are in the works. “One of the things that I’m really excited about is taking this into its next generation. When we started, it was really American Express’s voice. This space is now a majority in Daniel’s voice. This, for me, has been really interesting to consider: How do we start to think about experiences through the eyes of those that were around? The Card Members and the Collective—not just the corporation? And where does that go?” Wherever it ends up, we’ll be watching.
For Card Members attending the second weekend of Coachella, the “Amex Card Member Club” will be open onsite in GA, where Card Members will be offered respite from the hustle and bustle of the festival grounds. Card Members will be able to access by linking their Amex account in the Coachella app. The lounge will include Amex/cash bar, mobile recharge stations, and more! Enrolling into the Coachella app provides exclusive Card Member access and offers.