Arne Sorenson's passing elicits tributes, and an outpouring of grief

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Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson greets staff at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina in an undated photo. The CEO died on Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson greets staff at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina in an undated photo. The CEO died on Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Leaders from across the travel and hospitality sectors expressed profound sadness following the death of Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson on Monday.

Sorenson, who publicly announced his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2019, was 62.

"I am deeply saddened by the heartbreaking news of Arne Sorenson's passing," Hilton president and CEO Chris Nassetta said in a statement posted on LinkedIn. "He was an incredibly respected man, a leader in hospitality and a devoted husband, father and friend. It's been a true honor 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."

Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels, echoed Nassetta's sentiments, calling Sorenson "a great partner" and "a warm and gracious friend."

"I will miss him dearly," said Hoplamazian. "The entire Hyatt family sends their heartfelt sympathy to all of our fellow hoteliers at Marriott."

  • Watch video: During the 2017 World Travel and Tourism Council in Bangkok, Arne Sorenson spoke with Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann about the expected impact of the Trump presidency –- then only four months old –- on hotels and meetings.

In a post, IHG Hotels & Resorts CEO Keith Barr celebrated Sorenson's reputation as "an incredibly inspiring person to so many people."

"When he spoke, people wanted to listen, and when he led, people followed," said Barr. "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."

In a statement released Tuesday, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO and former Marriott executive Roger Dow called Sorenson's death "a huge loss."

"To me, Arne was more than a professional colleague with whom I shared a special Marriott bond, he was an ally, a trusted friend and a partner," said Dow. "He also lent his considerable talents to U.S. Travel, particularly as chair of our CEO Roundtable but also in countless other ways. I will miss him terribly."

On LinkedIn, Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, called Sorenson a "visionary leader" and "icon" of the hospitality industry.

"Arne's battle against cancer embodied the qualities that made him such an exceptional human being: endless optimism, perseverance and servant leadership," added Rogers. "The world is a better place because of Arne Sorenson."

  • Watch video: At the 2016 World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Dallas, Arne Sorenson spoke with Travel Weekly’s Arnie Weissmann about traveler data, security concerns and the power of travel to move enhanced security forward.

Geoffrey Kent, Abercrombie & Kent founder and co-chairman, shared a tribute to Sorenson on Instagram, celebrating the veteran hotelier's "warmth, wonderful personality and friendship."

"He traveled with Abercrombie & Kent, and I especially remember his tremendous smile when he conquered Mount Kilimanjaro," said Kent. "[We'll] no doubt continue to see his impact on the travel industry for many years to come."

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