Sensei Porcupine Creek will be a luxurious boutique resort offering spa, nutrition, and movement programs.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY TANVEER BADAL
Porcupine Creek, the sprawling 230-acre private estate in Rancho Mirage where Oracle founder Larry Ellison once hosted President Barack Obama and other dignitaries, will soon welcome guests seeking curated, technologically advanced wellness getaways.
Set to open in early 2022, Sensei Porcupine Creek will be a luxurious boutique resort offering spa, nutrition, and movement programs similar to those found at Sensei Lanai, the company’s original location in Hawaii operated in partnership with Four Seasons. (Ellison owns the Hawaiian island of Lanai, a former pineapple plantation.) The Rancho Mirage property marks Sensei’s first time running its own property, which is expected to debut with 22 guest rooms and suites.
“It will be the first six-star wellness experience in this market,” Sensei CEO Kevin Kelly tells Palm Springs Life. “If you look at some of our competitors in the U.S. — most of which are in deserts — this will be the first in Greater Palm Springs that’s competing with the top destination wellness retreats in the country.”
Ellison, one of the wealthiest people in the world, and physician and scientist David Agus founded Sensei in 2018. The company’s goal is to help guests live longer, healthier lives using a lifestyle philosophy called The Sensei Way, which focuses on the areas of “move, nourish, and rest” to promote wellbeing, in addition to utilizing technology like fitness trackers, thermal body mapping, and biomarker blood tests.
“The DNA of our company is around proper research, data-driven facts, and technology,” Kelly says. “What [Ellison and Agus] are both brilliant at and how we operate is that all this complexity is made simple and approachable. It’s point and click. The way we organize the information for our guests makes it easy to understand and digest.”
Porcupine Creek was originally established in 1998 at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains by power couple Tim and Edra Blixseth, who later divorced and listed it for $75 million. Ellison, who also owns the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, snapped it up in 2011 for $43 million and gave the property a sleek California modern makeover.
“We’re converting it from residential to commercial grade,” says Kelly, who previously oversaw Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs and CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa in Arizona. “We’re making it ADA compliant, updating it for health and fire safety, everything. It’s cumbersome, but it’s not hard to do.”
Porcupine Creek features an 18,000-square-foot main house, several guesthouses, amphitheater, 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, tennis courts, and swimming pool. Kelly says Sensei will make a few changes to the property to accommodate its guests, such as transforming a fitness building into a yoga and movement studio and turning a conference room into diagnostic center.
The golf course and tennis courts at Porcupine Creek mean Sensei will be also able to provide new sports-centric programming not found at its Hawaii property. “The world-class golf and tennis facility allows [us] to apply our same design, health, fitness, and diagnostic principles to sports performance,” Kelly explains. “That will be a new program we’ll roll out at Porcupine Creek.” Kelly adds that Sensei will welcome all guests — no matter their fitness level or technological acumen.
"...this will be the first in Greater Palm Springs that’s competing with the top destination wellness retreats in the country.”
— Kevin Kelly, Sensei CEO
“Everyone is at a different cycle of their wellness journey,” he says. “Some people want to shut off technology and go for a walk in a beautiful environment. Some people want to use technology as a measure of their physical success, such as figuring out how to hit a golf ball 20 yards longer and extend core muscle strength and shoulder and hip rotation. Wherever people are at, we’ll meet them there.”
Culinarily, Sensei Porcupine Creek will feature food and beverage from celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who created the Sensei by Nobu culinary program at the Lanai property. However, the Nobu cuisine and all the resort’s amenities will be available only to guests staying overnight. Kelly estimates most stays at Sensei Porcupine Creek will be three to five days.