Tales from two families

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The two most prominent family names in the hotel business—Marriott and Carlson—made news recently, all of it good.

According to today's Washington Post, Marriott International took another step today in its eventual coronation of David Marriott as CEO of the company. After a successful run heading the global hotel company's sales and marketing operations, the affable and boyish-looking Marriott was tapped to head operations of the brand's managed properties in the key cities of New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The assignment includes overseeing the mammoth, challenging and highly profitable Marriott Marquis on Times Square.

While the younger Marriott and his dad, Bill, always sidestep issues of succession (the elder Marriott is a very spry 76 and seemingly has no plans to hang up his management spurs), the fact is that someday a new person will sit in the big office at Marriott's headquarters in suburban DC. As I've said all along, it will probably be highly respected CFO Arne Sorenson to take the job once Bill leaves the company. But depending on when that happens, and assuming David Marriott continues to mature as a leader, Arne will probably just be a seatholder until David is completely up to the task.

In Minneapolis, home to the Carlson family empire, news came in mid-May that the feud (and lawsuit) between matriarch Marilyn Carlson Nelson and her son, Curtis Nelson, has apparently been patched up. The suit was quietly dismissed after mother and son reportedly spent the Christmas holidays together. Curtis became miffed last year and filed suit after it was clear his mother was passing him over to succeed her as head honcho of the company business. (Hubert Joly took the reins from Marilyn in February).

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