Sensei Porcupine Creek seeks to restore the world to wellness

Owner Larry Ellison’s lavish retreat showcases a mission of transformation and elevated existence

By Alison Elsner
It’s a lofty goal: guiding the world to greater wellbeing. It’s the mission behind the entire Sensei Porcupine Creek guest experience, which provides the components for healthier, happier lives in a multi-sensory, eco-friendly setting.

Julie Oliff, general manager, says, “It may sound pie in the sky, but it’s sincere and heartfelt by every member of the team. We believe that encouraging guests to even take baby steps at their own speed is significant, whether it’s on the golf course, tennis court, during yoga, exploring the sensuous gardens, admiring the world class art or just achieving inner peace through a sense of restoration.”

Opened to the public in fall of 2022, the thrust of the 230 acre estate owned by technology pioneer and co-founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison, is fueled by science as well as luxury. The estate was purchased by Ellison in 2011 shortly after he assumed ownership of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and the BNP Paribas Open in 2009, launching a sort of cultural renaissance in the Coachella Valley.

Ellison partnered with oncologist David Agus, M.D. to develop a wellness platform based on movement, rest and nourishment, which mirrors the program at the flagship Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort which opened in 2019. Dr. Agus is a global leading oncology physician and scientist, researcher, The New York Times best-selling author, CBS News contributor and professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Viterbi School of Engineering as well as the Founding Director and CEO of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine. This retreat in Rancho Mirage, however, is standalone, fully managed by Sensei. Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains, Sensei Porcupine Creek features an intimate, adults-only environment where guests are supported by highly trained Sensei guides, wellness practitioners, sports professionals and a culinary master. (Teens 16 and older are allowed when in the company of adults).

Oliff notes that it’s an extremely low-pressure environment. There are no forced crack-of-dawn hikes, unless one chooses them. But there are multiple fitness offerings scheduled throughout the day to invigorate and energize, such as morning meditation and yoga, a Desert Ridge hike, mat Pilates, tennis basics, a strength circuit, an art tour and so many others.

As for art, “There’s a piece for every person, mood and time of day,” according to Oliff. Visual and tactile artistic expression is an integral part of Sensei Porcupine Creek, with unique works found throughout the grounds. A tour of the property includes the Keith Haring Self Portrait sculpture with its joyful, primal colors; an enormous sea snail dreamcatcher in the lobby; one of Yoshitomo Nara’s whimsical giant white dogs; Numbers sculptures by Robert Indiana; and Jaume Plensa human face sculptures.

A la carte experiences are available, such as massages for $300 to $495 and 18 rounds of golf for $950. Tee times are spaced generously apart, so that pace of play is never an issue. The golf neophyte can feel free to take as long as he or she wishes to finish a hole and replay it multiple times if so desired while playing among nearly 75 acres of turf and sand bunkers highlighted by glimmering lakes and streams. Rental sets are available upon request.

The tennis courts were built to match those played on by the champions training for the nearby BNP Paribas Open. Private tennis lessons are available with a dedicated tennis professional on hard court or clay court, and 60 minutes runs $300. The tennis ball machine is also an option for $120 for 60 minutes, and tennis court rental is $90 for 60 minutes.

Seclusion at Sensei Porcupine Creek is paramount, with guests often not even encountering another person especially while in the respite of their deluxe villa. Oliff says, “Privacy is at the core of the Sensei offering, contributing to a sense of safety as well as emotional well-being. Overnight visitors know that they are one of only 21 to 50 other registered guests who can all feel secure in the intensely private surroundings we’ve created.”

Meals at the on-site Nobu restaurant were devised with superstar chef Nobu Matsuhisa along with Dr. Agus. Exclusively open to resort guests, guests can enjoy Sensei by Nobu for breakfast, lunch and dinner al fresco amid lush gardens or in the elegant interior of the dining room and sushi bar. There’s also poolside and in-room dining. Menu options present tuna ginger Tosazu, black cod miso, rock shrimp tempura, eggplant spicy miso, prime tenderloin and many others. And, yes, there’s a dessert menu, with gourmet treats such as honey pistachio semifredo and whisky cappuccino. [Would love to plug golf omacourse experience here to show how SBN extends into golf experience; very high level just one sentence max.]

There are 22 accommodations on property, including estate rooms, casitas and seven villas with patios and heated spas (two or four bedrooms each). Each residence is designed around open concept living, with soaring ceilings, light natural woods and expansive windows framing the lush desert landscape. Views are enchanting, with vibrant green fairways, immaculate gardens and expansive water features. Every design feature reinforces the sense of tranquility and serenity perpetuated by abundant waterfalls and ponds to encourage the guest to reconnect with their surroundings.

The price point for an overnight stay is far less than one might expect, starting at around $1,275 and up depending on selected wellness packages and dining options. Oliff explains that each overnight includes a $250 wellness credit to be used for spa services or golf, creating a customized encounter. Of course, this also includes 700-thread count sheets, lavish landscaping at every turn, plush robes, Dyson hair dryers and the aforementioned private Nobu on site. Oliff says, “There’s a clear value attached to the pricing, and having the grounds practically to oneself is considered priceless by many.”

The Guided Wellness Experience is a popular three-night wellbeing package to acquaint guests with all that Sensei has to offer. The package includes two spa treatments, an health assessment with a dedicated Guide and two private sessions focusing on mindset, nutrition, yoga or fitness. Also included are daily wellness activities and access to the world-class golf and tennis facilities. At the culmination of the stay, the Sensei guide reviews specific learnings with a targeted “My Plan” session and provides an actionable “Guide to Growth” report to help continue the practices at home. The package runs $1,625-$2,375 per night, depending on season and date.

In short, Sensei is a global movement for sustainable living, powered by science, data and technology. The wellness retreat is intended to provide a serene and supportive environment to align actions with intentions.

As Oliff says, “The most important thing is that we continue to make a different in the lives of others.”

Sensei Porcupine Creek
42765 Dunes View Road
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270