< PrevNext > BTN's 2015 Most Influential Arne Sorenson, Marriott International President & CEO By Julie Sickel / June 19, 2018 / Contact Reporter Share THE HOTEL IMPERIALISTSeemingly content to focus on micro-acquisitions like Delta Hotels and Resorts, Gaylord Hotels and Protea Hospitality Group, Sorenson stunned the industry announcing the mega- acquisition of Starwood to create the world’s largest hotel company. Marriott International’s $135 million acquisition of Canadian hotelier Delta Hotels and Resorts in early 2015 would have been enough to land president and CEO Arne Sorenson on BTN’s 25 Most Influential of 2015 list. Instead, Marriott went a big step farther in November by acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts in a $12.2 billion deal. The acquisition marked one of the most significant transactions in industry history and will make Marriott the largest hotel company in the world.Starwood announced in April it would “explore strategic alternatives,” including a sale to another company. Sorenson initially rebuffed inquiries into whether Marriott would consider buying. He said the company was more interested in smaller deals like the Delta Hotels acquisition and other recent purchases like Gaylord Hotels and Protea Hospitality Group. In a short time, though, Starwood strengthened its position among the big hotel players, adding an 11th brand, signing and opening a record number of hotels and improving its overall value enough to draw the interest of Hyatt, as well as a handful of Chinese investors. In a surprise move, Marriott won the bid for Starwood, and the deal is expected to close by midyear.“On a combined basis, this transaction will expand our presence around the world, broaden our appeal to younger travelers and increase the growth opportunities for Starwood’s valuable brands,” Sorenson said after the deal was announced. “In addition, combining Starwood’s leading lifestyle brands with Marriott’s strong presence across select-service and luxury tiers, as well as our convention and resort segment, will create a very attractive portfolio that should be more appealing to guests, meeting planners and owners and franchisees.”Combined, the two companies have 5,500 properties representing 1.1 million rooms across more than 30 brands and an expanded presence around the globe. Marriott also will absorb Starwood’s robust guest loyalty program, which boasts 21 million members. Sorenson said Marriott plans to combine that with its own loyalty program.As for Delta Hotels, the deal gives Marriott an enhanced presence in Canada and the opportunity to extend the brand into the United States. Marriott signed its first United States-based Delta property in November in Orlando.