Mourning the Passing of Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson

Connect remembers the hospitality giant, who passed away on Feb. 15 after transforming the chain into the world’s biggest hotel brand.

Marriott CEO Arne M. Sorenson

Arne M. Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, passed away on Feb. 15 at the age of 62. He had been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer, and had stepped away from day-to-day operations of the Bethesda, Md.-based hotel brand earlier this year.

Sorenson took over the position in 2012, becoming the third CEO in Marriott’s history and the first from outside the Marriott family—and in a short period of time, he led a massive expansion that included the $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which led to Marriott becoming the largest hotel operator in the world. Sorenson also oversaw the launch of Marriott Bonvoy, the travel industry’s largest customer-loyalty program, and became known for his leadership on issues surrounding 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,” said J.W. Marriott, Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board,” in a statement. “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 Feb. 2 of this year, Sorenson had announced he’d be temporarily reducing his schedule to focus on treatment. At the time, two longtime employees—Stephanie Linnartz, group president of consumer operations, technology and emerging businesses; and Tony Capuano, group president, global development, design and operations services—were tapped to oversee day-to-day operations. The pair will reportedly continue in the roles until the Marriott Board appoints a new CEO, expected to happen in the next two weeks.

Born on Oct. 13, 1958, in Tokyo, Japan, Sorenson grew up in St. Paul, Minn. and began his career as a lawyer before joining Marriott; he was also on the boards of Microsoft and the Special Olympics and was a trustee of the Brookings Institution. He is survived by his wife, Ruth, and their four children. 

Photo: Courtesy of Marriott International