Arne Sorenson, who made Marriott International the world’s largest hotel chain after acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts for $ 13 billion in 2016, has passed away. He was 62 years old and was being treated for pancreatic cancer, the company said Tuesday.
Sorenson, the third CEO in Marriott history and the first outside of the founding family, passed away on Monday.
Sorenson expanded Marriott’s global presence to dozens of brands including W Hotels, Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard and Sheraton.
Last year, he had to run the business through the Covid pandemic that has stalled most global and domestic travel.
Sorenson, who assumed the role of CEO in 2012, was the son of a Lutheran missionary. He was born in Japan and later grew up in Minnesota.
He studied religion and economics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where he graduated in 1980. He then earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota, which opened the door to more career opportunities.
After high school, Sorenson joined the Latham & Watkins law firm in Washington, DC. While he was a partner there, one of his clients was Marriott.
Bill Marriott, son of Marriott founder J. Willard Marriott, finally convinced Sorenson to join his hotel business in 1996 as Associate General Counsel. He later served as senior vice president of business development, CFO and ultimately CEO.
“Arne was an exceptional manager – but he was also an exceptional person,” said JW Marriott Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board. “Arne loved every aspect of this business and enjoyed the time he spent touring our hotels and meeting employees around the world. He had an uncanny ability to foresee where the hospitality industry was going and to position Marriott for growth Husband, father, brother and boyfriend. On behalf of the board of directors and hundreds of thousands of Marriott employees around the world, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Arne’s wife and four children. We share your heartbreak and will miss Arne very much. “
The hotel operator announced in May 2019 that Sorenson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Earlier this month it was announced that the CEO would temporarily cut his work schedule to accommodate more demanding treatment.
Earlier this year, Marriott added two executives – Stephanie Linnartz, Group President, Consumer Operations, Technology, and Emerging Business; and Tony Capuano, group president for global development, design and operations services to oversee day-to-day operations and represent Sorenson.
The company announced Tuesday that Linnartz and Capuano will continue to do so until the board appoints a new CEO, which is expected to happen within two weeks.
Marriott stock rose less than 1% on the Tuesday before trading, after falling about 12% in the past 12 months. The hotel operator has a market capitalization of nearly $ 42 billion.