Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson, who led the hotel chain through a major expansion and then guided the company during the COVID-19 pandemic, died Monday. He was 62.
The world’s largest hotel chain said Sorenson died “unexpectedly” after his pancreatic cancer worsened in recent weeks. His diagnosis had been announced in May 2019, and Marriott said two weeks ago that he would “temporarily reduce his schedule” to deal with heightened treatment.
Sorenson, who led Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016, was only the company’s third CEO and was its first who didn’t have the last name Marriott.
“Arne was an exceptional executive – but more than that – he was an exceptional human being,” Marriott executive chairman J.W. Marriott Jr., said in a statement. “Arne loved every aspect of this business and relished time spent touring our hotels and meeting associates around the world.”
Working from home during COVID-19?:Here’s what that means for your tax returns
‘I’m literally breaking inside’:As COVID-19 leaves millions jobless and struggling, the mental health toll rises
The company said two executives who had been appointed in early February to share oversight of day-to-day operations, Stephanie Linnartz and Tony Capuano, would retain those duties until the board appoints a permanent CEO. That’s expected to happen within two weeks.
When Sorenson revealed his diagnosis in May 2019, he said that the cancer had been discovered early and that his doctors were optimistic about his chances.
Sorenson joined Marriott in 1996 and became CEO in 2012. The Bethesda, Maryland-based company owns 7,000 properties and operates 30 hotel brands throughout the world. Those include former Starwood brands Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, W Hotels and St. Regis.
“I think CEOs get more credit than they deserve and more blame than they deserve,” he told the Boston College Executives Club in 2018. “The truth is that we accomplish nothing by ourselves; success is purely through our people and through our teams. It’s a collective effort.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.