Tributes from across the hotel and tourism sectors are flowing in following the death of Marriott International CEO and President, Arne Sorenson on Monday. He was 62.
“It is with profound sadness that Marriott International announces that Arne M. Sorenson, President and CEO, unexpectedly passed away on February 15, 2021,” the hotelier said in a statement.
Sorensen joined Marriott International in 1996 as VP and Associate General Counsel, according to his LinkedIn profile. Over the next 25 years, he worked his way up through the ranks at Marriott, appointed as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2009, prior to his promotion to President and CEO in April 2012.
As President and CEO of Marriott International, Sorenson oversaw the hotel giant’s global portfolio of properties, which spans luxury brands including The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Edition, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts and JW Marriott.
He was the company’s first CEO without the Marriott surname.
In May 2019, Sorenson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which has a very low survival rate of just 5-10%.
Earlier this month, Marriott announced Sorenson would temporarily be reducing his work schedule to facilitate “more demanding treatment” for his cancer.
Marriott International said: “A visionary leader, Mr. Sorenson put the company on a strong growth trajectory that included the $13-billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. During his tenure as CEO, Mr. 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, Mr. Sorenson steered Marriott to make significant progress on diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and human trafficking awareness.”
This from J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board.
“Arne was an exceptional executive – but more than that – he was an exceptional human being. 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.”
Outpouring of sadness
The CEO’s of numerous rival hotel groups extended their sympathies on social media, including Keith Barr from IHG Hotels & Resorts, Chris Nassetta from Hilton and Geoff Ballotti from Wyndham.
The US Travel Association’s President and CEO, Roger Dow and Virtuoso’s Chairman Matthew Upchurch also expressed their grief.
Marriott International anticipates naming a new CEO within two weeks.