Industry Mourns Passing of Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson

Andrea Doyle, Senior News Editor
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BETHESDA, Md. – Called by many a “visionary leader,” Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, has passed away at the age of 62. Sorenson was the third CEO in Marriott’s history, and notably, the first without the Marriott surname.

In May 2019, Marriott International released the news that Sorenson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and on February 2, 2021, Marriott announced that he would temporarily reduce his schedule to facilitate more demanding treatment.

Sorenson put the company on a strong growth trajectory that included the $13-billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. During his tenure as CEO, Sorenson was tireless in driving the company’s progress, creating opportunities for associates, growth for owners and franchisees and results for the company’s shareholders. Known for his leadership on difficult national and global issues, Sorenson steered Marriott to make significant progress on diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and human trafficking awareness.

“Arne was an exceptional executive – but more than that – he was an exceptional human being,” J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, said. “Arne loved every aspect of this business and relished time spent touring our hotels and meeting associates around the world. He had an uncanny ability to anticipate where the hospitality industry was headed and position Marriott for growth. But the roles he relished the most were as husband, father, brother and friend. On behalf of the Board and Marriott’s hundreds of thousands of associates around the world, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Arne’s wife and four children. We share your heartbreak, and we will miss Arne deeply.”

Condolences have poured in from the travel and trade show industries. U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the follow statement:

“It is difficult to find words that express the depth of our sadness at the passing of Arne Sorenson, our dear friend, business leader and travel advocate. This is a huge loss, first and foremost for Ruth and Arne’s wonderful family, but also for his many associates at Marriott International and those of us across the travel industry who had the pleasure of interacting with him. We frequently sought his wise counsel and collaborated to improve the travel experience. Arne always offered a vision that extended well beyond the lodging sector he so expertly represented. To me, Arne was more than a professional colleague with whom I shared a special Marriott bond, he was an ally, a trusted friend and a partner. He also lent his considerable talents to U.S. Travel, particularly as chair of our CEO Roundtable, but also in countless other ways. I will miss him terribly.”

When Sorenson stepped back from full-time management in early February, the company tapped two veteran Marriott executives, Stephanie Linnartz, Group President, Consumer Operations, Technology and Emerging Businesses, and Tony Capuano, Group President, Global Development, Design and Operations Services, to share responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company’s business units and corporate functions, in addition to maintaining their current responsibilities. Linnartz and Capuano will continue in this capacity until the Marriott Board appoints a new CEO, which is expected to be within the next two weeks.