Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta and Arne Sorenson

Tributes for Arne Sorenson have poured in from across the world, with industry leaders describing the President and CEO of Marriott as a respected, talented and devoted man who was passionate about his family and colleagues.

Sorenson passed away overnight after a brave cancer battle over the past 18 months.

Hilton’s President and CEO, Chris Nassetta, said he has lost a friend and the hotel industry would miss his tireless advocacy and passion.

“I am deeply saddened by the heartbreaking news of Arne Sorenson’s passing,” he said.

“He was an incredibly respected man, a leader in hospitality, and a devoted husband, father and friend.

“It’s been a true honour to work alongside him on behalf of our great industry for so many years, and I will miss him and the friendship we’ve built.

Marriott’s Sorenson, IHG’s Solomons and Hilton Nassetta at the 2016 NYU Conference. Photo: James Wilkinson

“On behalf of everyone at Hilton I want to extend my condolences to the Sorenson family, the thousands of Marriott International associates around the world and the countless people whose lives he has positively impacted over the years,” Nassetta said.

IHG Hotels and Resorts CEO, Keith Barr, said Sorenson’s passing is a sad time for the global industry.

“Arne was an incredibly inspiring person to so many people, and his love of our industry, his passion for his company and the care he showed for those around him were clear for all to see,” he said.

“When he spoke, people wanted to listen, and when he led, people followed. That is the mark of a great leader and his legacy at Marriott speaks for itself, not just in how he consistently raised the bar to grow the company, but also in the way he championed progress on important social and environmental issues, and represented our industry with such grace in the best of times and in the most challenging of times.

As an industry colleague and a friend, I feel privileged to have known Arne and to have worked together on tackling some of our industry’s big challenges.

“I have such respect for all he achieved and for the way he stayed so strong during his illness, leading Marriott through the hardest time in our industry’s history, at what was clearly a very difficult time for him personally.

“He will be deeply missed and the thoughts of everyone at IHG Hotels and Resorts are with Arne’s wife and children, and all those at Marriott at this desperately sad time,” he said.

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts CEO, Geoff Ballotti, said Sorenson was one of the greatest leaders the industry has ever seen.

“Our hearts today at Wyndham are broken with the passing of our dear friend and colleague Arne who meant so much to all of us,” he said.

“We will keep Arne, Ruth, Astri, Esther, Lars and Isaac in our prayers along with all of the Marriott International family.

“God bless one of the greatest leaders we’ve ever been gifted to have lead our industry over the years on so many different levels.

“Arne will be missed in more ways than we will ever know,” Ballotti said.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation President and CEO, Mark Hoplamazian, said Sorenson would be sorely missed by many.

Arne Sorenson and J.W. Marriott, Jr.

“Sharing my deep condolences with Arne Sorenson’s family on this sad day for the hospitality industry,” he said.

“Arne was a great partner, always a warm and gracious friend – and I will miss him dearly.

“The entire Hyatt family sends their heartfelt sympathy to all of our fellow hoteliers at Marriott,” Hoplamazian said.

Accor released a team statement that acknowledged the impact Sorenson had made on the industry.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Arne Sorenson’s passing,” the company said.

“He was the respected voice in hospitality, fierce competitor, exceptional leader, visionary & consummate hotelier. 

“We extend our most heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and mourn with Marriott International family today,” Accor said.

Pat Pacious and Arne Sorenson at the NYU Conference

Choice Hotels International President and CEO, Patrick Pacious, said the accommodation industry had lost a “great voice”.

“This week, we lost a great leader who had a major impact on our industry and on the lives of many who call the travel industry their home,” he said.

“On behalf of all of us at Choice Hotels, I’d like to express our deepest condolences to Arne Sorenson’s family, to the entire Marriott International family, and to the many people who were inspired by his personal and professional leadership.

“He set a tremendous example for all of us as someone who truly loved the hotel industry and lived his passion for it every day.

“He worked on behalf of everyone in hospitality – associates, owners, brands and guests – to advocate for what was right and was in their best interests.

“Arne was a truly remarkable person, colleague and friend, his voice carried great weight, and he will be deeply missed,” Pacious said.

Arne Sorenson at the 2017 NYU Conference

Loews Hotels Chairman and CEO, and Chair of the NYU International Hospitality Investment Industry Conference, Jonathan Tisch said

“Arne was a long-time friend and supporter of the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality and its Annual International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference,” he said.

“Revered and respected across the hospitality industry, he was the recipient of the Stephen W. Brener Silver Plate Award, which was bestowed upon him at the 2018 Hospitality Conference.

“Arne was a leader and a true innovator, who was responsible for Marriott’s sustained growth and for its role in addressing critical issues including diversity, equity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

“He was an exceptional executive, but he also was known for his incredible kindness and generosity.

“Arne was always willing to give of his time and understood the importance of the Tisch Center’s mission—educating the next generation of industry leaders.

“He was instrumental in making this happen through contributions made by Marriott, which supported funding for Tisch Center scholarships.

“We would like to extend our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues in this time of great loss. He will be sorely missed,” Tisch said.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management