A hospitality industry guru who turned his father's root beer soda stand into a global hotel empire is stepping down.
Marriott International announced Tuesday that J.W. (Bill) Marriott, Jr., 79, will leave his post as chief executive next year, after 39 years at the head of the company. He will be replaced by chief operating officer Arne Sorenson.
Marriott International has more than 3,600 hotels in 70 countries and employs about 129,000 people. Its hotel brands include the J.W. Marriott hotels, Courtyard by Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels.
In 2010, the company reported sales of nearly $12 billion.
The Wall Street Journal says the hotel company is working on opening another 228 hotels in Asia and has also enjoyed strong recent growth in Brazil.
Many in the hospitality industry credit J.W. Marriott, Jr. with pioneering the industry's business model - based on the philosophy that if you take care of your customers, your customers will come back.
Marriott will remain on the company's board as executive chairman.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.