My Decision: Timing is Everything

December 19, 2011

 Listen to blog MY DECISION

It’s been quite a week since I announced that I’m handing over the day-to-day CEO reins to Arne Sorenson.  The blog comments have been truly heartwarming.  Thank you so much.

So people ask, “What went into my decision?”

I try to lead from my heart and my heart said, “Now’s the time.”  For some reason, many of you thought that we were talking about the “R” word – retirement. I’m not going anywhere.  I’m going to be executive chairman and as I said in numerous media interviews, Arne will be driving the bus, but I’ll still be onboard. 

Bill & Arne handshake

So, why now?  I think timing is everything in life.  Next year, I will celebrate four personal milestones:  I’ll turn 80 years of age in March.  I'll have worked at Marriott for 60 years in June.  I’ll have been CEO for almost 40 years and celebrate that anniversary in November.  And I will have known Arne Sorenson for 20 years.  These are nice round zero dates. 

It’s also a time of great strength for our company.  We’re totally focused on lodging and developing the best hotel brands in the world.  I also didn’t want to wait until next year.  I can hear the whispers, “When’s it going to happen?”  Well, it has happened. And after a week, it feels good.  It’s perfect timing just before the holidays. 

While I surprised some folks, one thing that surprised me was the reaction.  The media was overly generous with very flattering stories.  During a rally at our headquarters, I had a difficult time keeping my emotions in check.  It was a day that I’ll never forget. (video excerpt below)


You’ve often heard me blog about my family.  Well, I really wanted their blessing.  Once again, they kept it “real.”  I think you’ll find this story amusing.  There’s an expression that I would use on long road trips when the kids would start acting up in the back seat.  I would holler at them and say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”  When I told my children about this big decision and waited for their blessings, they said, “Well, you’ve been CEO for 40 years. ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.’ It’s time for you to let up a little bit.”

Many ask, “How do I feel?” Above all, I’m grateful first to my family, especially my wife, Donna, grateful for the opportunity to work with so many talented people, and very grateful that Arne is ready.

Bill waves

As executive chairman, I’m not going anywhere.  I will continue to blog and stay in touch with all of you.  And now, as I said to our Marriott associates at the end of the rally: 



I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move. 


Below are links to some media coverage:

The Washington Post - Page 1; Dec. 13, 2011

"Bill Marriott: the man I know" by Mike Rosenwald, The Washington Post

Televison reports:



Voice of America      



Please leave a comment.

(Just glanced at some comments.  Thanks again for your wonderful remarks.  Remember, I'm NOT retiring.  Don't send me out to pasture yet.)  

The comments to this entry are closed.


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Mr. Marriott,

I wanted to mention how truly grateful I am for the excellent staff at your Marriott Buttes Resort in Tempe, AZ. I have had the pleasure of staying at this hotel on weekly basis since November of 2012 and I am continuously impressed with the service. From the attention to detail, the friendly greetings and the professionalism, this hotel stands apart as being one of the few where I feel I truly belong to a community. As a long-time platinum member, I have met hundreds of your employees and can honestly say these are the best of the best. At the Top of the Rock Restaurant are some of the best servers I have ever met. Laura C., Jane, Peter, CJ, AJ, Amber, Katrina, LaFrance, Briana and David, just to name a few have elevated my dining experience to a new level. On the reservation side, Benja Kirk in sales, Amber Lynn and Kent at the front desk and many others whose names are not mentioned, have taken the extra effort of recognizing me by name, accomodating my room needs and always ensuring my stay is the very best. As a result of this excellent service, I have brought along many of my colleagues at PricewaterhouseCoopers to stay at the Buttes as well. I would be honored if you would extend my personal thanks and appreciation to everyone at the Buttes on my behalf. Tell them that after a 1,000 nights in Marriott Hotels around the world, the Marriott Buttes is "Mr. Rathjen's" absolute favorite thanks to them. Best of luck to you sir and thanks again for a job well done.

You will always be the heart and soul of the Marriott Corporation, Mr. Marriott. In our private conversation, I wished you well. What is this about the "R" word? Now will be a time to spend at your beloved retreat, be with your delightful family, and work for the greater good of our magnificent land. I was at the Kennedy Center this past weekend and saw the Marriott name inscribed on the wall. I'm sure you will be busy promoting the arts, culture, humanitarian values, and setting aside time to be involved in your church. With deep appreciation as a platinum Marriott member, a person who appreciates how you manage with compassion and heart, and a fan of your business model, I wish you all the good that life has to offers. Brendan Ben Feeney

Good Day Mr. Marriott,

A warm hello from a team member of more than 20 years with Marriott. From the start many years ago, when Marriott had 60 hotels on my first day of joining the team, you have inspired all of us to do our best each and every day. Now, with so many brands that fall under the Marriott Family of Hotels, I am proud to say that your leadership made the company what it is today.

On the many occasions that we met in Fort Lauderdale during your holiday visits each year, every interaction made me want to be the very best and show how Marriott does it right.

Thank you and your family for making the company what it is today and I wish you and everyone a great holiday season!

Mr. Marriott, just want to tell you how impressed I am with what you have done. I only use Marriott hotels whenever I am able and LOVE many of your resorts, especially JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix where my husband and I go each January to celebrate our anniversary. I received your Christmas email and just wanted to reach out and thank you for all you have done.
Happy Holidays,
Deb Mullins

Dear Mr. Marriott,

Congratulations! You're decision to ride on the bus rather than drive is well deserved after 65 years of service! I want to take this opportunity to let you know how proud we are to work for and be a part of such an amazing organization. I've recently joined Marriott International, and each day I'm amazed by the culture within the organization. It starts at the top! I am proud to sell our hotels, as they truly are the best in the industry! The staff that touch our guests every day truly are the very best! Thank you for your inspiring service and leadership.

Mr. Marriott,

My name is Stuart Hamilton and I'm a Lifetime Platinum member with your company. I had some reservation issues a couple of weeks ago and I just wanted you to know how much of a pleasure it was working with your Omaha reservation associate, Mr. David Dietz, to resolve my problem.

David was very professional and diligent in addressing my needs, and he reminded me again why I support your business model to address my everyday travel accomodations.

Thank you for retaining such qualified personnel to work with your valued guests and for making my continued support of your brand an easy decision.

Best regards,

Stuart A. Hamilton III
Vice President of Sales
Vogue International

Bill Marriot is a man who has a passion of service. He has a good understanding in hospitality industry.

Two points are the keys success or running the hotel: taking care of people and taking care of employees. I do agree of the idea 100 %.

When possible I can share more knowledge in hotel industry.

I wish him success in entire of his life.

I'm so proud to be a part of this team. I don't feel like it's just a job. When I'm at work at times I feel like I'm at home. Everyone works as a team to make each other and our guest feel welcome. Thank you so much Mr. Bill Marriott for showing how much you appriciate your employies by giving back from the employee of the month, Tiefel certificates,the classes you offer for personal growth to the Quarter Centry Club and the benifits after retirement. We all are truly blessed. You have drven the Marriott bus all over the world and it's good to know that you will still turn the wheel by choice although your not the one pressing on the gas. May you and your family always be happy and in good health. Thank you so much and I hope to meet and greet you again upon your return to NYMES Cynthia McMullen PBX/AYS.

Thank you for always treating us like family, thak you for your care and dedication. Very proud to work for this company. You are a true inspiration in my life. Thank you and God bless you and your family.

I am proud to be one of Marriott TEAM member.
Thanks for you Mr.B.Marriott that you make us proud working for one of the Best Company in the world in Hospitality field.
God Bless You and keep Marriott on the top always.
Amen Tizani

Mr. Marriott,
As a college student studying in Hotel Administration I just wanted to say how great of a role model you are for all of us. The way that you conduct business, and your management style really set a great example for young aspiring managers like myself. It is nice to see how many of your employees enjoyed working for your company, and possibly I will have a great story to tell like them someday. Continued success to you, and congrats on all you achievements thus far.
Jared King

Thankful customer. 38 years old and i have never really taken the time to thank someone like the Marriott for everything they done for my family. Orlando Springhills and Tampa Renaissance. These employees are great people and they did an awesome job. My family lost the most important thing when travelling from Canada, Our passports!! they were found and returned. This company has a costumer for life and i would like to thank you for everything.

Dear Mr. Marriott,

Congratulations! You're decision to ride on the bus rather than drive is well deserved after 65 years of service! I want to take this opportunity to let you know how proud I am to work for and be a part of such an amazing organization. I've recently joined Marriott International, and each day I'm amazed by the culture within the organization. It starts at the top! I am proud to sell our hotels, as they truly are the best in the industry! The staff that touch our guests every day truly are the very best! Thank you for your inspiring service and leadership.

Fabulous post

I have had the opportunity to stay at Marriott hotels for 30+ years and to be a pre-construction owner at Sabal Palms (the second MCVI property).
Your name, your integrity and your standards; the assurance that if things went wrong you and your team would make them right, are what has caused me to continue to stay with your group of properties.

I hope and pray that the new leadership will manage to keep your core values as they move forward. You are a unique person and leader.
Many of us feel an era is ending, but will hope for the best.

Regardless, best wishes in your new role and in your future.

Dear Bill:
Thank you for your leadership and thank you for not retiring entirely. I travel 30 nights a year and look forward to spending all of them with Marriott.

The "Spirit to Serve" is alive and well from the JW's to the Fairfield Inns. I am especially impressed with the Kansas City Airport Marriott, where I am greeted like an old friend by Russ the shuttle driver, Cheryl in the restaurant, and Mai the hostess (who called me by name after a seven month absence). I wish you the best and I look forward to many more nights with Marriott.

After reading the many well deserved coments and accolations of your tenure and leadership at Marriott there is not much left to say but I will try bt saying you are a good man Bill Marriott and may God Bless and keep you in the days to come

The reasons cited in both videos is why I am a lifetime platinum member and why I use Marriott Corporation as one of the best organizations for Leadership, Attitudes, Service and Teamwork. It is built to L.A.S.T. and 85 years and going is proof

Gregg Gregory, CSP

Mr Marriott Thanks for be a Rol Model for us..I really love work for this company and sometimes in our 15 minutes training I talked to my associates about your comments or histories in your Blog
I'm glad that you keep working for us yet and for Mr Arne Congratulations and my best wishes in his new role

God Bless you Mr Marriott

Congratulations Sir! Thank You Mr.Marriott for all that you have done to make all Marriott Associates happy throughout their journey, it is a greart oppurtunity to work for a company which has great leaders like YOU Mr.Marriott.

Thank You!!

Dear Mr. Marriott,

Congratulations on your successful 40-year leadership. Marriott has grown so much because of you and your vision. Your innovation and creativity, as well heart-felt appreciation for your customers over these past years have really elevated you to the top of the pack. You will be missed as CEO however I am certain your legacy will live on. I am sure you we can still expect great things from you as you enter a new stage of your journey.

Dear Mr. Marriott;

Taken by surprise! As Terica says, never a dull moment with Mr. Marriott. I had to reread your announcement many times. Your continued effort to create that “family experience” in MARRIOTT is so rare. I must admit when I read your announcement, I said that MARRIOTT had been transformed from a family business into a pure business. Thank you for answering future-related questions like the continuations of your blog. Is there the possibility of an entrepreneurial inter-generational network????? Remember, the “the world is flat” and becoming flatter. Thanks for sharing yourself, and for jolting us into becoming more conscious about how much you mean to us.

What you have done is to awaken the most two powerful elements of the Universe within ourselves, “love and gratitude.” They are irreplaceable in the business concept of MARRIOTT. An extract from Masaru Emoto: “Love and gratitude are fundamental principles of nature. At the end of its long journey though the cosmos, water arrived on earth with love and gratitude in its bosom. This love and gratitude created the first inkling of life, and then provided the tender nurturing required for growth. Looking at the water crystals photographs awakens a primeval memory contained deep within the water in each of our cells.”

I wish the incoming management the best, however in the essence of “keeping it real” as the youth would say, the new management will be highly challenged to follow and even supersede your act. Creativity automatically becomes a very key aspect. As you shared being an avid movie-goer, I am sure you know and as any professional actor would share, you are a “tough act to duplicate.”
Thanks for your kind words of reassurance which have strengthened the legacy you are sharing with us, and made us value even more the preciousness of the moment s in which you keep Marriott on the Move.

Dear Mr.Marriott
I have started my career with Marriott International 10 years back in JW Marriott, Mumbai, India as an associate; and today I am a Director of Engineering of 2 Marriott Hotels in Hyderabad, India. This would have not been possible without your inspring culture and encouragement to grow yourself along with the company. I still remember the day, when you were there in JW Mumbai and we all were standing for a photo session. You suddenly turned back and told our Chief Engineer "You Are Hiding Your Associates Behind". It was so inspiring for me which I will never forget ever in my life.
You are the mentor for us forever.
Devendra Modak

Joanne and I express our love and appreciation for you. You are a great man. You are a tremendous leader. You are a wonderful employer. You are a terrific husband. You are a wonderful father. And much more. Somehow you have had the unusual ability to weave all of the above together to become one of the great and courageous and insightful men of the century. We know that you will continue to have good influence on the company and the future. We will always love and admire you. Ray and Joanne and Family

The first time I met you, Mr. Marriott, was when we opened the "Palace on Market Street" in Philadelphia. I had already been with the company 6 or 7 years, and when I thanked you for building us such a beautiful place to work in, you hugged me and whispered in my ear, "I built it just for you, dear." I'll never forget that day -- I swore I'd never leave you and I never did. I wish you great health and happiness for the rest of your life. Thank you for everything you have done for me and my family. With profound appreciation, Linda