There's no easy way to put this, so we'll just come right out and say it: The Air Force is hiding military equipment inside a giant beach ball on the roof of a Holiday Inn.
You can go visit the hotel if you'd like. It's in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. — overlooking the beach! — and features a waterfall, lazy river, private balconies and even movies shown at the pool. It also has a secure conference room for confidential military meetings and a few usually plainclothes personnel who work on the roof.
The beach ball on the roof receives radar signals — you can see the antennae sticking out of it in the picture above.
Private partnership: It may seem like an unusual combination, but there's reasoning behind it. The Air Force owns the land, so a deal was struck. In exchange for building a Holiday Inn on the lot, the military got to include its meeting room and equipment. (It's also known as Eglin Air Force Range Test Site A5.)
As for the beach ball? Well that's purely cosmetic. It was added, contractor Wesley Mason told the AP, to make the building "less military and more visitor-friendly."
With smaller budgets, a land deal like this helps the Air Force tighten its belt. Innisfree, the company that owns the hotel, pays the military $190,000 a year in rent. Maybe the best part though: Air Force families get to stay at the resort for a discounted rate.
Hidden in plain sight: Most visitors don't seem aware of the hotel's secondary purpose. TripAdvisor reviewers fail to rate the radar reception, though they mention the views are wonderful and the rooms are a little bit small.
Some of the visitors who know about the military installation ask to visit the roof, the hotel's sales director told the AP, but guests aren't allowed up there.
Image Credit: TripAdvisor
The question remains: What else is our country hiding in giant beach balls? America's vacationers demand to know.