Saluting a Hospitality Icon: A Powerful Tribute to Arne Sorensen’s Legacy


A tribute to Arne Sorenson, Arne Sorenson was the president and chief executive officer of Marriott International. He became CEO on March 31, 2012, making him the first person outside the Marriott family to lead the Company. For more than a decade, Marriot has been the world’s largest hotel chain. Much of that success is owed to the Company’s late president and CEO, Arne Sorenson. After a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer, the hospitality industry prodigy passed away at age 62 on Feb. 15, 2021.

Arne’s early years

Arne Sorensen’s journey from humble beginnings to one of the most respected CEOs in the business world is a true tribute to his perseverance and exceptional leadership. From his early career as a lawyer at Latham & Watkins, he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming one of the youngest practice leaders in the firm’s history. With over 25 years of experience in finance, accounting, and business law, Sorensen brought a wealth of expertise to his role as senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the Company in 1999.

Arne Sorenson, the tribute of countless accolades, was appointed as senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the Company in 1999. Armed with a law degree from the University of Chicago, he began his career as a corporate lawyer and later went on to serve as a member of several prestigious boards, including Stanford University’s Board of Trustees. As a recognised member of the American Bar Association and the Illinois Bar Association, Sorenson’s expertise and leadership were highly valued by his peers in the industry.

President and Chief Operating Officer of Marriott International in July 2006.

As president and chief operating officer, he was responsible for the Company’s day-to-day operations. He oversaw all aspects of Marriott International’s worldwide hotel operations, sales and marketing, finance, and information technology functions.


Arne’s appointment as CEO of Marriott International in 2012 marked a significant milestone, as he became the third non-family member to hold this esteemed position. In the same year, he also became the first non-family member to be appointed as president and COO. Prior to his tenure at Marriott, Arne served as the head of InterContinental Hotel Group Worldwide for over 15 years, a tribute to his extensive experience and leadership in the hospitality industry.

An immortal spirit

Sorenson’s leadership was a tribute to his forward-thinking mindset and customer-centric approach. He fostered a culture at Marriott that empowered both employees and guests to thrive, setting the company apart as a true leader in the hospitality industry. As a visionary, Sorenson recognized the potential of the digital age and propelled Marriott to the forefront of technology-savvy companies. He personally championed smartphone apps that enabled customers to seamlessly check-in and out of hotels, unlock room doors, and order food and drinks, cementing Marriott’s position as a trendsetter in the industry.

“He was an extraordinary leader, a trusted business partner, and a dear friend,” Marriott Executive Chairman Bill Marriott said Tuesday. “While we are deeply saddened by his passing, we will remember him for his friendship, passion for people, love of life and the example he set for us.”

By revenue, the most distinguished U.S. hotel company

Arne Sorenson’s leadership and dedication to excellence was a tribute to the global success of Marriott International. Under his guidance, Marriott grew to become the largest U.S. hotel company by revenue, managing more than 460,000 rooms across over 6,000 locations worldwide. With brands like Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, the company’s presence spans across 110 countries and territories. With its headquarters located in Bethesda, Maryland, Marriott International’s reach and impact on the hospitality industry is a testament to Sorenson’s remarkable leadership.

The assurance is in the accolades

The late Arne Sorenson was known for his exceptional dedication to serving Marriott’s guests and customers. As a tribute to his leadership, the company has received many notable awards and recognitions over the years, including being listed on Diversity Inc Magazine’s Top 25 Noteworthy Companies and receiving the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the Gallup Great Workplace Award, the Catalyst Award, and the Wingspan Anti-Defamation League’s Distinguished Corporate Partner Award.

               Tribute large building 

He continued to focus on the well-being of its associates and guests and Marriott’s role in the communities in which it operated. He supported causes such as The World Food Program USA (WFP) by donating more than $100,000 annually since 2006 (over $1 million). He helped establish a foundation for former employees with disabilities through his work with Project SEARCH.

Forbes magazine ranked Sorenson as one of the top 200 CEOs for three years. (2014-2016)

Final tribute

Arne’s legacy at Marriott is a tribute to his unwavering commitment to a strong culture built on shared values. His insatiable curiosity about new markets, products, and technologies paved the way for innovation across Marriott. Arne’s deep-rooted belief in the transformative power of travel to unite people from different cultures and backgrounds will continue to be a guiding principle of Marriott’s mission in tribute to his vision.

Arne’s legacy as an exceptional human being went beyond his remarkable leadership skills. He embodied kindness, humility, generosity, earnestness, and a profound passion for both people and business. His leadership was characterised by great compassion and integrity, and he inspired others to follow in his footsteps. His lasting tribute is the positive impact he had on those he worked with and his unwavering commitment to making the world a better place.