the California coast is studded with legendary hotels and world-class resorts — from charming casitas where the Kennedys once honeymooned to palace-like estates with private beaches and butler service. And when it comes to health retreats, California also boasts some of the most highly regarded wellness spas in the country, many of them nestled into our legendary canyons or along the coast.
One thing California doesn’t have are many destinations that qualify as both world-class resort and hard-core wellness spa. On my recent visit to Sensei’s newest location in Palm Springs, I was delighted to discover that the property is bridging that gap with a luxurious and personalized health experience that is neither crunchy nor intimidating. You could call Sensei the Erewhon of resorts.
Cocktails Or Hot Yoga Classes? Get Yourself A Resort That Can Do Both
Clearly, there’s a huge swath of the population who, tasked with the choice between poolside drinks at an indulgent resort and wheatgrass shots in the hammam, will choose the drink with umbrella every time.
Imagine being able to offer your friends and family a vacation experience that gave them all the classic amenities they were looking for, plus tech-driven health insights and one-on-one mind body consults that will shape their approach to wellness long after the vacation is over.
Wellness is for everyone — yes, even the well-resourced. And while resources may get you access to great healthcare, a healthy bank account can’t evoke an interest in preventative health or daily well-being — a truth too many wellness lovers know when it comes to their parents, spouses, or friends.
Co-founders Larry Ellison and Dr. David Agus created the Sensei experience with this in mind. The resort provides a comfortable and appealing experience for those who may not be drawn to a traditional health spa environment. If your family and friends are constantly averse to all your wellnessy travel ideas, Sensei may just be your golden ticket.
Inside The Sensei Porcupine Creek Experience
Sensei Porcupine Creek is the second of two locations, the first being Sensei Lanai near the legendary Four Seasons on the island. Having visited Lanai a few years back, I was hoping to encounter the same well-designed experience after just a short drive out of L.A., rather than a flight across the Pacific.
Pulling through Sensei’s gates, you could almost believe you’d arrived someplace tropical. Tucked into the hillside of Rancho Mirage, Sensei spans 230 acres that unfold like an outdoor gallery from the moment the gates open. Although the golf course here is world-class, an interest in golf or tennis (gorgeous courts!) is not required. The property is meticulously designed and imbued with a sense of calm and well-being. It is hand’s down one of the most beautiful modern properties in Southern California.
Between the desert heat and the world-class landscaping, the property is a total oasis. There’s also a Nobu. This tropical ‘mirage’ factor is a huge selling point for Sensei and here’s why: as iconic as California’s beaches may be, they are rarely warm, which is why so many Californians head to Mexico and Hawaii on holiday. There may be no ocean front rooms at Sensei, but the experience is as close to an exotic getaway I’ve found two hours outside Los Angeles.
Why Go: If you’re looking for a wellness escape that’s not crunchy — this is the place. This desert retreat has nothing to do with deprivation and there is nary a sweat lodge to be found. If you’re curious about optimizing your overall health or hoping to open your family up to preventative wellness concepts, Sensei can help without intimidation or unfamiliarity.
Sensei offers every traditional amenity imaginable, while encouraging engagement in their comprehensive mind-body programming And, again, there’s a Nobu.
During my stay at Sensei, I easily toggled between yoga and poolside margaritas. I spent as much time inside their cathedral of a gym as I did inside the soaking tub in my room. After personalized mental health and nutrition sessions with Sensei’s pros, I’d meet my husband for meals at the sushi bar or head to the spa for a custom gua sha facial. This is a wellness experience anyone could embrace.
What You Need To Know: The Sensei experience is highly customizable. Explore their packages in advance and choose your own wellness adventure!
There’s a technology aspect to your stay if you wish. Guests who book Sensei’s Optimal Wellbeing Program or Rest & Recovery for five days minimum are given a Whoop tracker at arrival providing in-depth health analysis with the data captured throughout their stay. Most private sessions come with the option of biometrics, meaning that your fitness or nutrition practitioner can provide V02 max tests to measure your cardiovascular health or run your bloodwork to provide targeted dietary guidance. If you’re traveling with an uninterested or skeptical friend or family member, the tracker and bloodwork as where things can get really interesting! Even if they won’t join you for sunrise yoga, they may perk up at the personalized biomarkers they review over lunch.
How To Plan: Slate just two hours of drive time from L.A. Expect exquisite service from the moment you arrive through the gates and plan your wellness services, reservations at Nobu, and pool time as you please. Schedule plenty of down time so that you can enjoy walking the property and your beautiful room — from the soaking tub to the outdoor seating areas, you’ll want to spend plenty of time there soaking up all the calm.