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Marriott reflects on 40 years leading hotel giant

March 14, 2012 • Business


This undated photo provided by Marriott International Inc., shows outgoing Marriott International CEO , J.W. Marriott Jr. (left) and his replacement, Arne Sorenson who will be only the third CEO in the company’s 85-year-history and the first one not named Marriott. (AP Photo/Marriott International Inc.)

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Bill Marriott has revolutionized the hotel business over the past four decades.

As CEO of the company that bears his family’s name, Marriott led the industry in opening hotels next door to highway exits and suburban office parks. He was also a pioneer in catering to niche markets. In 1983, he launched Courtyard, a chain for cost-conscious business travelers. Today, Marriott has 18 brands, including Fairfield Inn for budget travelers and Ritz-Carlton for the luxury set.

But perhaps Marriott’s biggest innovation was his decision to transform the company into one that manages — but does not own — its properties. That left the company a steady stream of revenue but little exposure to fluctuating real estate values and vacancy rates.

Marriott turns 80 on March 25 and plans to step down as CEO at the end of the month. But this is no ordinary retirement.

He’ll remain chairman of Marriott’s board of directors and will have considerable power over the company through his 10 percent equity stake, which is worth $1.2 billion.

Marriott will spend Login to read more

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