Bill Marriott steps down as Marriott International CEO

John Willard "Bill" Marriott, Jr. announced Wednesday he is stepping down as CEO and Chairman of Marriott International. (Photo: Associated Press)

J.W. "Bill" Marriott, Jr. , son of the founder of Marriott International, announced Wednesday that he was stepping down from serving as the CEO and Chairman of the multi-billion dollar hotel chain.

Marriott was founded by J. Willard Marriott in 1927 when he and his wife opened a root beer stand at 14th and Park in D.C. This led to more than a dozen shops and restaurants in the area.

"When I came to work we had no hotels," Marriott said. "We were in the restaurant business and doing $80 million a year in sales, and we're doing $25 billion now, so there's been a little bit of growth," he laughed.

Marriott saw that transition and growth. The company has hotels in 72 countries with 660,000 beds and more than a quarter million employees, including 14,000 in the D.C. area.

Many employees packed the corporate headquarters Wednesday morning to honor the 79-year-old. Marriott is stepping down as CEO after six decades with the company.

His key to success over the years is to never stop growing.

On March 31, 2012, Marriott will officially hand over the CEO title to Arne Sorenson, 53, the hospitality giant's current chief operator officer.

"I've thought for years that I'd pity the man who tries to replace Bill and fill his shoes," Sorenson said. "He's an icon of the industry. He's a man we all love."

While Marriott is stepping down as CEO, he says it is not a retirement.

"I'm gonna hang around here and help as much as I can."

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