But the French girl's time on the famous holiday island has been very different to the normal adventure in the sun.
She and her 11-year-old sister were brought to Phuket by their father in July, taking an extended look at the prospects of perhaps staying as expat residents.
He had been a regular visitor to Phuket for years, and for a time was married to a Thai before his wife's death five years ago.
The father took a job and seemed likely to settle but the two girls proved a handful. The Frenchman would sometimes disappear for days. He did not care for the girls especially well.
After a big argument, Manel ran away, to live a life of her own in Patong, reputed to be Phuket's wildest nightlife destination, where go-go dancers perform in the main street and hostesses ply the bars.
In the meantime, Manel's father was arrest for possession of drugs and jailed, then transferred to Bangkok prison on November 29.
Both the sisters were left to fend for themselves, Manel as a runaway at 12 and her sister Chaima, living alone in a guesthouse in Patong.
Once the French Embassy eventually learned from their grandmother in France that the two girls had been left to their own devices on Phuket, authorities sprang into action.
The fascinating and extremely fortunate account of how the girls were tracked down then rescued was told last night, soon after Manel emerged from her dip in the pool, at a media conference organised by Phuket's Tourist Police Volunteers.
Two weeks ago, using photographs taken of the girls several years ago - when Manel was aged seven - volunteer's assistant Phawadee de Crissey used her detective skills to trace Chaima to the Goodnight Bungalow.
There are many kind-hearted people in Patong and Chaima had been fortunate to be befriended by Khun Ta, a woman who helped her with food and clothing.
No harm came to Chaima, who was taken by embassy officials to Bangkok then sent home two weeks ago to Paris and into state care.
Concern continued to mount about Manel, the runaway. There was no guesthouse and no friendly local for her.
The Tourist Police volunteers made it their job to look for the girl.
An Italian who works as a volunteer, a former policeman, recognised Manel from the old photo with a large pet rabbit, even though her hair was much longer then.
''I see her in Soi Bangla most nights,'' said the observant ex-policeman with a great memory for faces.
Last Thursday, the duty tourist police watched and waited in Soi Bangla, and around 11pm, right on cue, Manel appeared alone in Soi Crocodile, the laneway noted for dancing katoey ladyboys.
The team - Italian Sergio Bongiovanni, Thai Narada Hanks and Jordanian Omar Alqraini - moved in.
''I grasped her wrist just in case she ran for it,'' said Omar. Sergio spoke to Manel in French. She was relieved to have help at last.
Around the table at the Royal Phawadee Village media conference last night, Manel joked with journalists and answered questions about her adventures as a runaway 12-year-old in Patong.
Khun Phawadee's husband Claude heads the Phuket Tourist Police and has allowed Manel to stay at the resort he and his wife own since the 12-year-old was rescued.
Khun Phawadee has taken both sisters shopping for the cold-weather clothing needed in France at this time of year.
Manel was not, as some feared, sold into sex slavery or forced to work as an under-age hostess. She said last night that she led a carefree life, sleeping at the room of an 18-year-old Thai girl who befriended her.
''I would sleep during the day and wake up about 2pm,'' she said ''Then I would go to the beach to see my boyfriend, who works as a jet-ski beach boy.''
At night, the pair would enjoy the buzz of Patong and its nightlife, and later head for Rock City to dance their way into the early hours.
There was one scary incident in the dark on beach road one night, when a man put his hand over her mouth and appeared to want to drag her into the scrub. Manel, big and strong for her age, quickly fled.
There was also a worrying visit to the Kathu Police Station, when she was taken in by an officer because the owner of a motorbike shop had produced her passport.
Manel's father had left his 12-year-old daughter's passport as security when he hired a bike.
She was hauled in by an officer after police identified her on the bike one night. When they discovered she was only 12, the police realised they could not prosecute a case against her, and waved her on her way.
Now soon bound for Paris, Manel is hoping to spend Christmas with her sister. They will have much to tell each other about their holiday in Patong.
''I will miss Phuket,'' she said. ''When I am 18 and one day, I will be on a flight straight back.''
Around the media conference table last night, the Phuket Tourist Police team roared with laughter.