Sensei Porcupine Creek for Optimal Wellbeing

by Brook Benten on May 23, 2023 in Travels,

Palm Springs has a new ultra-luxury wellness destination that’s not just another spa resort to help you unravel life’s stressors. Sensei Porcupine Creek addresses the science behind your stress, strain, and sleep and helps guide you to a plan for optimal wellbeing.


Sensei (pronounced sen-say) is Japanese for teacher. Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek.

The Sensei Spark

Sensei is a passion project, founded by Larry Ellison and Dr. David Agus, to guide people to live healthy lives, rich with movement, nourishment, and rest. Dr. Agus is a world-renowned medical expert who has published hundreds of scientific articles on preventative medicine and new cancer treatments. Anyone could benefit from the advice in his easy to follow, easy to implement New York Times’ best-selling books: The End of Illness (2012) and A Short Guide to a Long Life (2014). 

Mr. Ellison and Dr. Agus founded Sensei Porcupine Creek (est. November 2022), a desert oasis on 230 acres in the Santa Rosa mountains. Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek.


Sensei Porcupine Creek offers seven different packages with varying levels of wellbeing customization. For guests that just want to get away and enjoy a relaxing stay in paradise, there’s Discover Sensei Experience (2 night minimum stay). To those that seek specialized physiological data with expert-guided evaluation and feedback to learn and leave with the tools to elevate their health and wellness from here to there, there’s Optimal Wellbeing Program (5 night minimum stay). 

A $250 wellness credit is included with Discover Sensei. A $500 wellness credit is included with Optimal Wellbeing. These funds can be applied to spa treatments. Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek.

What’s the Difference?

Discover Sensei will show you a luxurious property with pristine accommodations and the best sushi this side of Japan. Optimal Wellbeing will show you what’s possible and can lead you to an actionable plan to improve your cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, strength and mobility, blood glucose, serum proteins, mindset, meditation, circadian rhythms, and get better sleep. You can’t throw a stone in Palm Springs and miss a luxurious property. But outside of a clinical setting, you won’t find this depth of reliable human performance data nor expert guidance for personal growth anywhere. 

As an exercise physiologist and travel writer, my observations come from the rare perspective of wellness, science, and hospitality. Where those three parts of the Venn Diagram overlap, that’s Sensei Porcupine Creek. Photo Brook Benten.


WHOOP is the most sophisticated wearable technology sleep tracker. WHOOP measures your sleep, strain (workouts), recovery, and heart rate variability. While Apple, Oura, and Withings+ are vying for top spots in AI and data tracking, WHOOP is less of a data tracker than a personalized coach. For that reason, Sensei has partnered with WHOOP and created an integrated platform. If you enroll in the Optimal Wellbeing Package (or Tennis Optimal Wellbeing Program, Golf Optimal Wellbeing Program, the brand new Rest & Recovery Program, or 30+ Day Sensei Sabbatical Experience) you will receive a WHOOP 4.0 in the mail a month before your stay. During that month, the WHOOP is to be worn nonstop. 

Through an integrated portal between WHOOP and Sensei, Sensei Guides monitor and review your data to document your current lifestyle. Photo courtesy of Sensei Porcupine Creek.

Optimal Wellbeing Program “My Intention”

After catching your breath from the jaw-dropping views on the private drive to the Estate House (resort lobby), the Optimal Wellbeing Program commences. “My Intention” is where you meet your expert Guide, whom you will have conversed with via phone prior to arrival. Your Guide will lead you through a session to discuss what you aspire to gain while on property and beyond and analyze your WHOOP data in non-jargon terms. Your Guide will also measure your weight, fat mass index, skeletal muscle mass, water ratio, and resting energy expenditure (how many calories you burn per day just resting). 

Your Guide may also administer a Functional Movement Screening, which may reveal imbalances, tight spots, and misalignments. Based on your goals and likes, your Guide may recommend a movement experience, like wall yoga or cardio tennis; a nourishing experience, like fresh fish and house-made kombucha from Nobu; and/or a restful experience, like a spa service of Thermal Body Mapping and massage (exclusive Sensei-developed thermographic technology to create a visual map of your body and massage overactive tissue). Photo Brook Benten getting VO2 Max testing.

1:1 Private Sessions With the Top 1%

Sensei searches the world over for the industry’s Top 1% in fitness, nutrition, mindset, meditation, and yoga. The splendor of learning from the brilliant Guides (keynote speakers, peer-reviewed journal contributors, college professors) was the best part of my 5-star stay.  

The Optimal Wellbeing Program includes three 60-75 minute 1:1 sessions with these experts for you to glean a wealth of knowledge and apply it to your plan and growth. Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek.

Licensed psychologist, Andrea Wieland, PhD, MBA, directs Sensei Porcupine Creek’s wellness programming. Dr. Wieland is the former Athletic Director and Director of Sports and Performance at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Wellness Director, Andrea Wieland, PhD, represented the United States as an athlete in the 1996 Olympic Games. Dr. Wieland serves as a Fitness Guide for 1:1 Private Sessions. Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek.

Dr. Wieland is joined with a team of world-class faculty. Tegan Reeves, PhD, is one of Sensei’s Mindset and Mindfulness Guide. Dr. Reeves has taught over thirty psychology courses (graduate and undergraduate). Brooke Damerel, MPH, RD, is among Sensei’s Nutrition Guides. Ms. Damerel is a PhD student with emphasis in metabolic pathways and disease etiology and prevention. In whatever focus area you choose to devote your 1:1 sessions, you will be working with industry thought leaders. 

Whether you’re getting heart rate variability coaching, VO2 Max testing, fitness program design, personalized yoga, nutritional counseling based on your biomarkers (blood work), you are receiving instruction from highly respected industry experts. Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek.

Guide to Growth

After learning all you can while on retreat, you will meet with your Guide one final time to curate a Guide to Growth. This is where you reflect, set intentions for moving forward, and create an actionable plan. You’ll set clear objectives to improve your movement, nourishment, and rest that align with your ability and desires. The steps forward will take into account factors that may prompt or hinder your progress in your environment back home. And after this day, you will leave your secluded 22-key slice of sweet serenity and return home. Thanks to your newfound mindfulness techniques, you can take a nibble of that sweet serenity anywhere life takes you.

What About the Ultra-Luxury Five Star Resort?

This entire review has been dedicated to Sensei Porcupine Creek’s full immersion wellbeing program, Optimal Wellbeing. Why put so much emphasis on biomarkers and health data when globetrotters would swoon over the facilities at Sensei? 

Dine on house-crafted anti-inflammatory food at Sensei by Nobu. The menu is ever-changing, crafting the freshest seasonal ingredients. Dishes harness an evidence-led approach to nutrition; a collaboration between co-founder Dr. David Agus and world-renowned Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Photo Brook Benten.

(By facilities, I mean Jaume Plensa sculptures, museum-worthy artwork, impeccable landscaping, world-class tennis and golf facilities, terry robes and Nespresso machines in every guest room, private outdoor heated spa and deck with every casita, 4,500sf 4-bedroom villas – to name a few). 

Globetrotters would swoon over this guest villa. Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek.

The reason goes back to the mission of Sensei: “to apply data-driven health knowledge and utilize technology to create premier wellbeing retreats in Hawaii and California to promote preventative care and healthy lifestyle practices.” It’s not just to show you a breathtaking resort to sip cocktails and vegetate at the always-85-degree pool. 

Sensei Porcupine Creek can send you a WHOOP 4.0 (plus 6-12mo membership, see packages) to give you information on your current wellbeing. But information alone does not reliably change behavior (BJ Fogg, PhD, Founder of the Behavioral Design Lab at Stanford University).

Book your Optimal Wellbeing Package at Sensei Porcupine Creek in Rancho Mirage, CA (Palm Springs area). This program requires a five night minimum stay at a single rate of $1,720 single/$2,390 double. 42765 Dunes View Road Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. Ph 760-465-2358. Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek.

Sensei Guides listen to your intention, likes, desires, and work with and for you to form a plan for a tipping point to wellbeing and continued growth. Your life will not be momentarily enhanced with a golden suntan. Your life will be forever changed. And your change will positively impact your friends and family. The concentric circles will continue to expand. That is how the world is changed. That is the takeaway from Sensei Porcupine Creek: a world of wellbeing. To speak to anything less than that is to impede the ripple of those circles. Far be it from me to do that.

A Desert Ridge Guided Hike to explore the Santa Rosa Mountains is a must-do experience while at Sensei Porcupine Creek. Here, you’ll move your body, nourish your soul, and rest your mind. Wardrobe courtesy of COCO On The Go. Photo Brook Benten.


Photo courtesy Sensei Porcupine Creek

Brook Benten, M.Ed. hangs her hat and notorious sports bra in Austin, TX. Prior to the great mommy resignation of 2020, Brook served as Executive Director of Healthy Living for Village Hospitality, a $750 Million, 500,000 s.f. mixed-use development (residential & commercial) in Dallas, TX. With a heart for physical activity, passion for wellness, and hankering for hospitality, she now travels and writes articles on the ($1T) wellness tourism industry. Her next book, Sweat Like a Mother: Helping Other Mothers Lift the Motherload, will publish in August 2023. @BrookBenten