Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, who pushed worldwide expansion, dies

First chief executive outside founding family; led $13B Starwood Hotels buy in 2016

National /
Feb.February 16, 2021 07:37 AM
Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson (Getty)
Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson (Getty)

Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson, whose expansion efforts helped make it the world’s largest hotel chain, died on Monday at 62. He had been battling pancreatic cancer, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sorenson, who in 2012 became the third chief executive in company history and the first outside the founding family, led the acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts in a $13 billion deal in 2016.

Sorenson also expanded Marriott’s presence under dozens of other brand names, including W Hotels, Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard and Sheraton.

J.W. Marriott, Jr., executive chairman, called him “an exceptional executive — but more than that — he was an exceptional human being.”

Sorenson was diagnosed with cancer in May 2019 and had stepped away from his full-time position this month. Sorenson is survived by his wife and four children.

He was replaced by Stephanie Linnartz, group president of consumer operations, technology and emerging businesses; and Tony Capuano, group president of global development, design and operations services. They will continue to fulfill his responsibilities until Marriott taps a new CEO.

In a November third-quarter earnings call — in which the company reported profits fell sharply year-over-year — Sorenson expressed his desire for office workers to get back to business. He expected it would take “a vaccine or two” to jumpstart the hospitality sector, but based on his conversations with some of Marriott’s bigger corporate clients, he said there was mounting pressure to get back to business as normal.

“I do think there is an increasing sense that with each passing month, we lose a little bit more in terms of the connective tissue between our people in companies in all sorts of different industries,” Sorenson said at the time.





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