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“Nice tour but could have been better”

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Singer Castle on Dark Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 1, 2014

The trip over was nice although the price was more than what was shown on the site for Schermerhorn tours. When we bought the tickets and questioned the price difference we were told that Singer castle had raised their prices. The actual boat trip was perfect. The girl that was giving the tour was not a good choice for this job. She had a very soft voice and it was impossible to understand her while touring the castle. The actual building was very interesting and fun to see how some with 'means' live. What we did glean from the tour was very interesting.

  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Elaine M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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48 - 54 of 70 reviews

Reviewed September 10, 2013

After having visited Singer Castle in 2012 we had to go back to stay the night! As other reviewers have stated, the day time tour is quite rushed and you feel like there is so much you don't see- and it's true. Unlike at Boldt Castle, where you are free to roam the grounds for hours, at Singer you are guided quickly through the main parts and only allowed to peek into the very cool secret passage ways. When staying the night you and your guests are the only ones on the island after 5 p.m. besides the caretaker and/or tour guide. You are treated to a truly extended tour! We were fortunate to have a local historian, Judy, as our guide and she shared her knowledge and obvious love of the place for 3 full hours! (With time to refresh cocktails figured in!) After the tour we enjoyed dinner in a room of our choice and then had the place to ourselves for the night. Of course, the secret passage ways were more fully explored and the grounds are lovely, even at night. The Royal Suite, which is the wing where you sleep, is beautiful and comfortable with amazing views of the mighty St. Lawrence River.The tearoom was flooded with sunlight for our continental breakfast the following morning and we sadly hung our crowns up and departed at 11 a.m. This is one of the most amazing trips I have ever taken! It's dreamy staying in any castle, which is common in Europe. However, to have the entire castle and 7 acre island to yourselves is quite unique!

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with friends
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7  Thank fjmreills
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 31, 2013

On a recent visit to the 1000 island region we visited Singer Castle. You will find two castles in this area - Boldt Castle and Singer Castle. I really enjoy castles and love the history surrounding them. It's hard to compare these two as they both offer different perspectives. This is what I believe makes Singer Castle special: This castle has a guided tour providing lots of history. It was owned by Fredrick Bourne, President of Singer Sewing Machine. He used this "castle" as a hunting lodge and it attracted many New York elite. Bourne had special passage ways that servants could check to see how guest were doing during dining times rather than walking in the room. The grounds are beautiful! I enjoyed my visit and would recommend a visit. You can rent a room(s) at the castle that would be fun. Personally, I would want to make sure air conditioning is available in summer months. I could see with a bit of restoration/decor this could be an even better attraction/tour.

Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
1  Thank luvdsny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2013

We did not stay here overnight, but my husband and I took the Uncle Sam boat tour. We had only 45 minutes on the island. The tour was guided, but we were very rushed. We didn't have time to really enjoy the house and the architecture. It is a gorgeous place, but not worth the extra money, since you really don't get to spend enough time there. Our guide was pretty knowledgeable and polite. The amount of people in our group was so big that we really did not hear everything or ask too many questions.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank ladyofgrammar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 5, 2012

If you are a visitor to the Thousand Islands area you definitely have to see Singer and Boldt Castles. I recommend going to Singer first because while it is big and impressive it simply prepares you for the majestic Boldt castle and all of its outlying buildings. I truly appreciate the medieval style of the first floor of Singer Castle, though that's not the typical style of the gilded age homes. The first and second floor areas are very rich in detail and color. In most of the rooms you can find a secret passsageway or some sort of spying device (such as tip-out portraits or heating vents). The views from the rooms and terraces cannot be beat. I like that the home is furnished with some original pieces, but if they keep the shades open and continue to allow people to take pictures the furnishing are going to continue to deteriorate. I really enjoyed my visit to the house, but it was way too quick! I spent $70 for 2 adults and one kid (through Schermerhorn Marina, and Uncle Sam's is the same price). I had expected to roam the grounds or have the opportunity to shop in the gift shop after the tour, but that was not the case. When we stepped off the boat we were ushered into the gift shop. It was so crowded because another tour had just finished that I didn't even want to shop. I decided to try to take some pictures of the house. The tours are guided so if your group is big or your guide doesn't speak loudly you are going to miss a lot of pertinent information as there isn't much literature about the home on the property or in the rooms. Our guide was good and he seemed to be knowledgable, though no one in my group asked any challenging questions. Once you tour the interior of the house you come out the back of the house to look around at the boat house and what used to be the tennis court, then that's it. Tour is over. You cannot tour the grounds on your own, you can't go back into the gift shop, as your boat will be waiting for you. The other 5 people that we traveled with (we didn't know them) were already seated on the boat, so I had no chance of shopping for a book, dvd or souvenir. The island is much smaller than Heart Island where Boldt Castle is located so clearly they cannot accommodate an excess amount of people and I appreciate their attention to safety, but they should allot at least 30 additional minutes for pictures and restroom use. Most people who visit these homes are first-timers so they should understand that and let you linger for a little while. Even though the group was small and the tour guide was personable and audible I would prefer an audio tour with more details about each room and/or piece of furniture. Aside from feeling rushed and spending so much money I enjoyed the home. Boldt was literally half the price and we spent 5 hours on property, but Singer is not to be missed.

  • Stayed: July 2012
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6  Thank Nicole A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2012

Fisrt of all, the real name of this place was originally The Towers, and it was built by Frederick Bourne, the president of Singer Manufacturing Company (wich explains all the old sewing machines you'll see throughout your tour). The castle took awhile to build because granite had to be hauled to Dark Island, and was completed in 1905. The Bourne family owned the island until the mid-1960's. My friend Sarah, who has a summer home at Point Vivian, says that this Singer Castle has the feel of a lived-in river home, compared to Boldt Castle, which was never completed or occupied. So getting a glimpse at how an island summer home operated (albeit one that most of us could never afford) is pretty cool. Seeing the crazy home-spa that heiress Marjorie Bourne Thayer had installed next to her bedroom was fascinating; there was some electro- thingy involving running water that looked like instant death to me, but I guess Marjorie got a thrill out of it.
As Sarah explained to me, once you haul stuff to a summer home on an island, you pretty much use the furnishings until they wear out, because it's so much trouble to replace them. That's why the draperies that appear gold in color are actually revealed to be originally deep green when the tour guide parts the folds & shows the parts not faded by time & sun.
The tour guide will make or break your visit, because you do not get free run of this place. You're on a tight rein with a second employee following behind to be sure you don't hide somewhere so you can swim back to the mainland later towing Marjorie's hydro-electric spa equipment behind you. The island sold within the past few years to a foreign investor who likes to collect islands, and they really could use more knowledgable docents rather than college students needing jobs for the summer. They were quite nice, but could be better trained with the castle's history. That's an issue for the trustees; the tour guides were very friendly.
Oh, and if you stay here overnight, you have free run of the castle & island, according to my friend, including all the secret passageways! She enjoyed her stay very much.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with friends
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7  Thank Bill H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 11, 2012

Maybe having really enjoyed our trip to Boldt Castle spoiled my family, but Singer Castle was a disappointment to us. First, I must explain, the guide we had (although sweet) did not know much about the castle. She would ask if anyone had questions, then answered, "I don't know," or seemed to make up the answer. Second, the tour had too many people in the group. Therefore, we were crowded into some areas. We were rushed to complete the tour. No leisurely visiting as at Boldt Castle.

The home offers a medieval theme, yet it is from the early 1900's not medieval times. Even the very limited gift shop has this theme rather than centering on the 1000 Islands area. In short, if you have decide between here and Boldt Castle, go to Boldt.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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8  Thank abletravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Singer Castle on Dark Island

Address: Box 59, Dark Island, Chippewa Bay, NY 13623-0059
Phone Number:
Location: United States > New York > St. Lawrence County > Chippewa Bay
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Chippewa Bay
Price Range: $650 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 28
Also Known As:
Singer Castle On Dark Island Hotel Chippewa Bay

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