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Arne Sorenson, President & CEO of Marriott, Unexpectedly Dies at 62

Arne Sorenson, President & CEO of Marriott, Unexpectedly Dies at 62
Joe Cortez

Marriott International is mourning the unexpected and sudden loss of the first company president and CEO from outside the Marriott family, Arne Sorenson. After a 22-month battle with pancreatic cancer, the hospitality leader passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 15, 2021.

Arne Sorenson, the first president and CEO of Marriott International to come outside of the Marriott family, has unexpectedly passed away after a 22-month fight with pancreatic cancer.

“It is with profound sadness that Marriott International announces that Arne M. Sorenson, President and CEO, unexpectedly passed away on February 15, 2021,” the company announced in a press release. His passing comes two weeks after the 62-year-old executive announced he would reduce his role in the company to “facilitate a more demanding treatment” for his disease.

Sorenson: “an exceptional executive – but more than that – he was an exceptional human being”

Born in Tokyo on Oct. 13, 1958, Sorenson would receive his education from Luther College and the University of Minnesota. He would spend time practicing merger and acquisition law with Latham and Watkins before joining Marriott in 1996 as a vice president and associate general counsel. According to his LinkedIn page, he served as the hotel giant’s chief financial officer, president of continental European lodging, and chief operating officer before assuming leadership from J.W. Marriott, Jr. in 2012.

His leadership may be best remembered for navigating a successful merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, outbidding a group lead by China’s Anbang Insurance Group in 2016. The deal made Marriott the world’s largest hotel company by both properties and rooms, while merging both Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest into one program: Marriott Bonvoy.

Sorenson was also politically active, and campaigned for progressive causes. In addition to supporting LGBT-based causes, the leader publicly opposed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, and opposed the travel ban from seven majority Islamic countries put in place by former president Donald Trump.

“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 of Marriott International, said in a press release. “Arne loved every aspect of this business and relished time spent touring our hotels and meeting associates around the world… But the roles he relished the most were as husband, father, brother and friend.”

Sorenson is survived by his wife and four children. No funeral plans have been announced.

Two Executives to Manage Marriott Business Until Successor is Named

The board of Marriott is expected name a successor to Sorenson within “the next two weeks.” Until then, his duties will be split by Stephanie Linnartz, group president of consumer operations, technology and emerging businesses, and Tony Capuano, group president of global development, design and operations services. The pair had begun taking over executive duties since Sorenson stepped back on Feb. 2.

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Image courtesy: Marriott International

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