Offering top-tier wellness programming in a lush desert oasis, Sensei Porcupine Creek balances health and decadence in equal measure.
Located near Palm Springs in Rancho Mirage, Sensei Porcupine Creek boasts a stay-all-day pool and incredible views of the Santa Rosa Mountains.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Sensei Porcupine Creek, the new luxury wellness retreat that recently opened in Rancho Mirage, Calif. About a year ago, I was fortunate enough to experience Sensei Lāna’i, A Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii. I loved the lush grounds and the evidence-backed wellness program focused on the brand’s move, nourish and rest tenets, and was curious to see how the first stand-alone retreat by Sensei compared.
The light and bright yoga pavilion is surrounded by nature.
After a two-hour-ish drive from Los Angeles, I pass through the resort gates—and by a colorful installation by Robert Indiana—and am immediately struck by the abundance of colorful foliage, something that echoes the resort’s Lanai counterpart. Sensei Porcupine Creek truly feels like an oasis in the desert, and backed by the Santa Rosa Mountains, a powerful sense of tranquility pervades.
Spread across 230 acres—Sensei co-founder Larry Ellison’s private estate, transformed—the resort is anchored by the art-filled Estate House, which houses the lobby and Sensei by Nobu restaurant. There’s a pristine, lagoon-like pool; spa gardens; yoga and fitness pavilions; a tennis court that many elite pros have practiced on; and a private 18-hole golf course beset with lakes and waterfalls. Both the tennis and golf facilities were formerly invite-only, but now are open to resort guests. Accommodations—there are 22—range from peaceful rooms to private villas.
As at Sensei Lanai, my Sensei guide works closely with me to determine my move, nourish and rest goals. One of the things I appreciate about Sensei is that the experience continues long after checkout—your guide is there to help keep you on your desired path. There are six different well-being packages offered, from introductory programs to in-depth, data-driven sports performance ones—wellness immersion on your own terms, if you will.
Stress-melting spa treatments include everything from customized facials to a four-handed massage with ayurvedic shirodhara.
Beyond the active—classes, rounds of golf, hikes and private tennis lessons—there’s plenty of opportunity to relax and indulge. The spa offers a few treatments exclusive to Sensei Porcupine Creek, including a desert herb poultice and oil massage, and a sports recovery experience that incorporates myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy, stretching and more. I loved the Calming Body Cocoon, a deeply relaxing full-body treatment involving melted candle wax that put me in a stress-free state of total bliss.
There are 10 Estate rooms on property, along with four casitas and eight villas.
The food is also incredible. A collaboration between renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Sensei co-founder Dr. David Agus, Sensei by Nobu—open to hotel guests only—delivers fresh, delicious food that activates the senses. I especially enjoyed my time at the sushi bar, where the chefs created dishes based on my preferences, but also surprised me with things I wouldn’t normally try.
Sensei Porcupine Creek stands out for a variety of reasons, and from the moment I arrived to now, several weeks later, I can look back and understand what those are with clarity. This is a first-class resort that masterfully weaves wellness into an uberluxe resort setting. Similar to Sensei Lanai, it offers a true escape, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to receive the benefits. Best of all, the personalized boutique feel—no doubt due to having just 22 keys—touches every aspect. From the supportive guides and the caring staff to the carefully curated itineraries and the out-of-this-world food, the resort caters to you. What can be better than that?
A dreamy shower in the spa’s private garden treatment room.
Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO BY: CHRIS SIMPSON; NOAH WEBB; PHOTO BY: NOAH WEBB; BY CHRIS SIMPSON; NOAH WEBB/ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF SENSEI PORCUPINE CREEK