If you’ve visited the unique well-being retreat Sensei Lanai on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, you might be wondering how their newly opened second retreat in Palm Springs compares. Only a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Sensei Porcupine Creek is much more accessible than Hawaii
Let me take you through the whole experience the way its founders—Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison and world-famous oncologist David Agus—intended.
A Personalized Experience
The Sensei Way—the highly personalized, holistic, science-based agenda of discussions, assessments, classes, treatments, and one-on-one sessions—has upped its already high-level game.
At Sensei Lanai, the company integrated the Sensei wellness experience at an already existing resort. However, at Porcupine Creek, Sensei completely took over Ellison’s secluded estate in Rancho Mirage, California, and started to build the hospitality portion from scratch. Because of this, Sensei could incorporate its multi-sensory approach to mindfulness and meaning into every nook, cranny, and curated art piece on the property. They could also train every team member to suggest and embody its ethos gently.
In fact, the interactions with the staff throughout my stay were the most special part of my stay—from Sarah at the hostess stand, who discussed my favorite piece of Justin Teilhet art with me, to Bethany, Sensei By Nobu’s trainer, who turned out to be a sharer of dad jokes.
Upon arrival, my wellness guide, Trevor, synthesized my pent-up spew of body aches and mental angst into a concise, three-word theme, then talked me through the agenda of experiences and one-on-one sessions. At Sensei, everyone uses data captured by biofeedback sessions, whoop readings, and more to communicate with the entire team. For example, after my sports recovery massage, lead therapist Kaleo gave me specific moves and stretches based on my fitness assessment earlier in the day by my exercise physiologist, Nick.
Then there was Michelle, who had us relax in the fetal position at the end of our yoga and meditation class because laying on the left side helps with digestion. “But don’t we also have to digest everything we see, think, and feel every minute of the day?” she asked. “With all that coming at us, don’t we deserve to give our bodies moments of rest and recovery?” Thereby knitting together the move, nourish, and rest threads of Sensei in one thought-provoking message.
The Property Features a Spectacular Golf Course
As at the Hawaiian property, the gardens and public art (much of it from Ellison’s private collection) are worth the visit alone. Porcupine Creek’s 230 acres of lush landscaping tucked in the Santa Rosa mountains are intentionally multisensory and eco-friendly, with drought-resistant plumeria trees, paper flower bushes, Creosote shrubs, and plenty of barrel cacti and palm trees.
The property boasts one of the most spectacular (and until-now private) golf courses in the world. Each hole seems to have its own story—for example, the property retires its palm trees at the oasis behind the 11th hole so the animals can eat the dry berries.
Everywhere you look, flowering bougainvillea and orange, grapefruit, and lemon trees color the cacti and desert sand. Maximalist contemporary sculptures scatter the grounds, from Keith Haring sculptures (including a green self-portrait) to a towering Yoshitomo Nara puppy dog to remind you of the importance of play. Rooms and common spaces are a California-calm palette of whites, beiges, and creams livened by organic materials like geodes, copper, and stone. A spectacular Rowan Mersh dream catcher installation made of thousands of sliced turritella shells greets you in the lobby—a natural, next-level nod to the sister resort.
The Property Is a Visual Masterpiece
Every room, piece of art, and piece of landscaping is enhanced with lighting designed by Barbara Bouyea, known as the “Rembrandt of lighting,” who is said to have spent 24 hours in each guest room and before each piece of art. She also lit up the landscaping and outside pieces, including the bold Robert Indiana numbers that line the entry road and the life-sized Keith Haring sculptures that pop up amongst the villas.
There are delights everywhere. Until I took the art tour, I hadn’t even noticed the sacred Lingam, a two-ton rock sitting amongst the barrel cacti and baby palm trees five feet from where I had enjoyed my morning coffee.
As for dining, fans will be thrilled that Sensei by Nobu’s Kohlrabi salad has made a successful journey across the Pacific. It and other Nobu standards like the black cod miso, rock shrimp tempura, and yellowtail jalapeño appear on both menus. Crowd favorites include a Jidori chicken and waffles, ribeye truffle butter, and vegetarian options like cauliflower jalapeño and roasted baby corn…
Sensei Porcupine Creek Pays Attention to the Little Details
What’s not to appreciate about the 600-thread count sheets, Japanese bidet toilets with heated seats, and the Nordaq water filtration system that ensures all food tastes pure enough for the most discerning chef or sommelier? Golfers will find it fun to order a sushi roll if they’re feeling peckish on the course, and voila, a bento box will arrive at the next tee.
Porcupine Creek also offers a five-day optimal wellness, golf, or tennis program that utilizes the next level of technology (a Whoop 4.0 wearable device, biomarkers for performance) with spa treatments and private sessions. Golfers receive seven hours of one-on-one instruction, and tennis players receive four hours.
The three-night guided experience starts at $1,475 per night.