Marriott president and chief executive Arne Sorenson is stepping back from the daily running of the hotel group as he undergoes treatment for pancreatic cancer.
The company said on Tuesday that Mr Sorenson, 62, who announced his diagnosis in May 2019, would cut down his duties for “several months” while he underwent more demanding medical care.
Marriott’s day-to-day operations will be overseen by two longstanding company executives: Stephanie Linnartz, group president of consumer operations, and Tony Capuano, group president of global development. Both joined Marriott in the mid-1990s.
The announcement comes at a difficult time for Marriott, the world’s largest hotel operator, as it battles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. In November, it reported an almost two-thirds decline in revenue per available room — the industry’s preferred metric — while third-quarter net income fell 74 per cent year on year to $100m.
In September, the group laid off about 17 per cent of its 4,000 corporate office staff. Marriott was one of the first hospitality groups to put thousands of staff on furlough after steep falls in occupancy levels as the pandemic spread last March.
On a call with analysts in November, Mr Sorenson warned that “the road to recovery is going to take some time”.
Mr Sorenson is the first chief executive of Marriott not to hold the family name. He joined the business in 1996 and was appointed CEO in 2012.
“Since my diagnosis, I’ve been working with a great medical team at Johns Hopkins to treat this cancer,” said Mr Sorenson in a statement. “While I have worked throughout my treatment to date and plan to remain as engaged in the business as my health allows, the right thing to do for me, my family and the company is to focus on my health.”
He added that, following the treatment, he planned to return to work full time.