At a Glance
A remarkable desert mountain oasis with 100 gardeners and 22 rooms, Larry Ellison’s wellness retreat Sensei at Porcupine Creek—with its verdant, 19-hole golf course, wellness sherpas, and spectacular plantings—is a draw for guests seeking Eastern-inspired, indulgent serenity, and who have the means to afford it.
The Oracle billionaire may have moved out, but he’s left the keys to his former home and 19-hole golf course. The landscaping of the 230-acres of grounds and links is extraordinary.
From the minute the great wood entrance gates swing open in the hills above Rancho Mirage, serenity reigns. Sensei’s army of cultivators (led by agronomist Jared Nelson) have created an irrigated Eden of palms, barrel cacti, and desert plantings perfumed by carpets of jasmine and populated by hummingbirds and whimsical modern sculptures including five Keith Herrings (a sixth is coming) and a series of pop numerals by Robert Indiana.
The 22 luxurious accommodations—including spacious villas (ranging in one to four bedroom), casitas and intimate estate rooms designed by architect John Milander—are the epitome of that beige-y, billionaire luxury portrayed on HBO’s Succession. Think minimalistic vibes, neutral tones, and a less-is-more attitude. (Those loud in taste or conversation, go elsewhere.) While the design focuses on subtlety, the amenities included are anything but. The suites and villas are both feature Toto toilets that hoist their lid in cheery welcome whenever you walk past and dyson hair dryers, in case you want to look good during your sound bath. In addition, there is an eco-focus with sustainable room amenities like Nordaq filtered still water, Alexandra Keating’s Uni body serum (cedar leaf, juniper, and smoked sandalwood and okaB slipper grippers.
The unflappable staff all wear pins in the shape of a Torii Gate, a Japanese symbol and portal to wellbeing. Their expertise isn’t worn on lapels but evident immediately with recruits hailing from institutions like elite Texas country clubs and the Polo Lounge. Food is exceptional. Nobu operates the small restaurant overlooking a waterfall and a 16-seat sushi bar open only for guests.
At Sensei, experiences center around science-based wellness programs with activities emphasizing individual physiology. To personalize the experience, prior to arrival, a dynamic questionnaire immerses the team in the guest’s background and aspirations, shaping a bespoke itinerary. And throughout the stay, there is continuous communication between your guides and wellness practitioners. Standout among the innovations is thermal body mapping, an exclusive Sensei-developed marvel revealing the body's nuances and guiding therapists to deliver a custom massage, unlocking newfound flexibility and alignment.Beyond the massage table, body data evolves through functional movement tests and wearables tailored to the guest's chosen wellbeing journey. In one-on-one sessions led by Sensei Guides, biomarkers like heart rate variability and cardiovascular assessments inform personalized fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness plans. Sensei crafts a symphony of science and serenity, redefining how we perceive and nurture our bodies in the world.
Beyond the massage table, body data evolves through functional movement tests and wearables tailored to the guest's chosen wellbeing journey. In one-on-one sessions led by Sensei Guides, biomarkers like heart rate variability and cardiovascular assessments inform personalized fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness plans. Sensei crafts a symphony of science and serenity, redefining how we perceive and nurture our bodies in the world.
While this all is exciting for some, for others, the fact that the estate has unlocked its exclusive tennis and golf facilities, once reserved for the elite will be the primary focus for a stay. The 18-hole golf course, previously graced by premier athletes and world leaders, now welcomes guests to bask in its scenic splendor, featuring lakes, streams, and waterfalls against the backdrop of the Santa Rosa mountains. And with a turf rate of 42 grass blades per square inch (this is important) its richly green and open only to guests. Links fees range from $650-$950 depending on season. Additionally, the property has three world-class tennis courts mirroring the prestige of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, inviting guests to play day or night on plexipave and Har-Tru surfaces. If tennis or golf are your main interests, there is a package for that.
Unlike many wellness-focused properties, Sensei does not constrain guests to strict diet. Instead, when you need a break for some indulgence, Nobu operates the small restaurant overlooking a waterfall and a 16-seat sushi bar open only for guests. You are more than welcome to however many lychee martinis seem reasonable each evening and even some dessert.
Who Should Stay
With its focus on adult well-being Sensei is not really a family destination. Couples, small friend groups, aspiring landscape architects, wellness seekers and golfers who don’t mind paying for perfection.
Written by Andrew Nelson