J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., who became chief executive of his family’s growing hotel empire in 1972, will step down as CEO in March. The 79-year-old son of the company’s founder will remain executive chairman and chairman of the board.
Arne Sorenson, Marriott International Inc.’s president and chief operating officer, will take over as chief executive, only the third CEO in the Bethesda-based company’s history. He is also the first non-Marriott to hold the title.
Sorenson joined Marriott as a senior vice president of business development in 1996. He became chief operating officer in 2009.
“As we approach the 85th birthday of our company and I proudly celebrate my 60th year of service, I decided to recommend to the board that Arne Sorenson take over the CEO responsibilities,” Marriott said in a statement. “It is amazing to me what we have accomplished over the years together, from a small root beer stand in Washington, D.C. to a global lodging powerhouse with operations in more than 70 countries.”
He held various positions at his parents’ Hot Shoppes Inc., beginning in the mid-1950s, and rose through the ranks as the Marriott chain expanded into a hotel giant.
Marriott’s first hotel, the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Arlington, opened in 1957.