J.W. Marriott Jr. Steps Down as CEO

Ends 39 years of leadership

marriott head shot

It’s one of the most popular hotel chains in the world. But today, the man who turned his parents' D.C. root beer stand into a hospitality empire is stepping down.

J.W. Marriott Jr. made the announcement in a statement. He will effectively step down as CEO in March, but will remain involved in the Bethesda-based company as executive chair of Marriott’s board. Current president and COO Arne Sorenson will handle the day-to-day responsibilities.

“I have been so fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented people in the world over the past six decades,” Marriott said in a statement. “It’s 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.”

Marriott’s father started the company in 1927 and it quickly spawned into a series of Hot Shoppe restaurants and hotels in the D.C. region. Marriott Jr. has since made it into a $12 billion dollar a year business, with more than 3,600 hotels and 129,000 employees. It’s also one of the most desirable employers, ranking 71st on this year’s Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Sorenson will take over in March during the company’s 85th anniversary and becomes the first CEO from outside the Marriott family.

“This is a tremendous moment for me personally,” Sorenson said in an interview with the Washington Post. “I’m enormously grateful to Bill Marriott of his support. I’m grateful that he is staying involved. He has forgotten more about the hotel industry than I will ever know.”

“As his mentor and friend, I could not be more please, for him or for our company,” Marriott said of Sorenson in a statement.

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